Update: Texas Marijuana Policy | April 30, 2021

There are 30 days left in the 2021 legislative session and marijuana bills are on the move!

Three bills have been approved by the Texas House, including proposals to reduce penalties for possession (HB 2593, HB 441) and expand access to medical cannabis (HB 1535).

One very good bill has passed the House and Senate! HB 567 adds a new limitation on removals under Family Code, Section 262.116, that testing positive for marijuana use alone is not sufficient for removing a child from his or her home. HB 567 would protect parental rights and is currently awaiting Governor Abbott’s signature!

Other bills making their way through the process: paraphernalia decriminalization (HB 1178), cannabis insurance coverage for state employees (HB 4307), and additional proposals to reduce penalties for marijuana possession (HB 1086, HB 99, HB 3772).

Medical Cannabis

All bills (and descriptions) listed here. Details of HB 1535 here.
ACTION: Ask your senator to support medical cannabis!

Marijuana Penalty Reduction

All bills (and descriptions) listed here. Details on HB 441 here.
ACTION: Ask your senator to support marijuana penalty reduction!

Unfortunately, marijuana legalization bills have not yet been scheduled for a committee hearing. Stay tuned for updates.

Sign up for email alerts and make a donation to support our work advancing marijuana law reform!

HB 441: Marijuana Penalty Reduction | TxMJPolicy

Bipartisan Proposal: Penalty Reduction for Low-Level Marijuana Possession

House Bill 441 has been approved by the Texas House of Representatives and will soon be considered by the Senate!

The bill has bipartisan support and will reduce penalties for marijuana possession (1oz. or less). HB 441 eliminates the threat of arrest and jail time and establishes an opportunity for deferral, dismissal, and non-disclosure. 

ACTION: Contact your senator in support of marijuana penalty reduction!

Joint Authors:

Representative Erin Zwiener (D)
Chairman James White (R) | Chairwoman Nicole Collier (D)
Chairman Harold Dutton (D) | Representative Steve Toth (R)

Policy Overview:

  • Possession of an ounce or less of marijuana would be a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $500, but no arrest or jail time.
  • Upon payment of fine and plea of no contentre (or guilty), a case will be automatically deferred once a year, allowing the individual to avoid a criminal record if the judge’s orders are followed.
  • Dismissed cases would not generate a criminal record, which can follow a person for life and jeopardize employment prospects, housing, and educational opportunities. No automatic driver’s license suspension.
  • The bill would not legalize or even decriminalize marijuana — it would simply change the penalty. 

Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession Are Unreasonable


“I don’t want to see our jails stock piled with people who have possession of small amounts of marijuana.” – Governor Greg Abbott, 9/28/18

Texans overwhelmingly support reducing penalties


According to a 2021 report by the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs, 77% of voters in Texas support a change in the law to limit punishment for the possession of small amounts of marijuana to
a fine of $250 without jail time.

Other states have successfully eliminated jail time for simple possession


● Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana. This generally means certain small, personal-consumption amounts are a civil or local infraction, not a state crime (or are a lowest possible misdemeanor, no possibility of jail time).

● Many of those laws have been on the books since the 1970s. They have been so non-controversial that several have been expanded.

Save tax-funded resources for serious crime


● Even after the legalization of hemp and with diversion programs in every major metro area of the state, DPS reports more than 45,000 arrests or citations for marijuana possession in 2019.

● During the same year, 92% of all burglaries — including home invasions — and 89% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved by law enforcement.

● Money spent enforcing current laws and arresting, jailing, and supervising people should instead be devoted to pursuing serious criminals.

Harsh penalties are unpopular, costly, and unfair


● A person found in possession of up to two ounces of marijuana faces up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

● Racial disparity in marijuana law enforcement is alarming. Black Texans are 2.6 times more likely to be arrested, even though whites consume marijuana at about the same rate.

● A drug conviction for marijuana creates a permanent criminal record, carrying significant and lasting
collateral consequences.

Texas should eliminate collateral consequences of a criminal record


● Indirect consequences for possession can be worse than the punishment and can last a lifetime. Young adults can find careers, new job prospects, housing options, and educational opportunities cut short
because of a criminal record.

● More than half of the U.S. population has tried marijuana, including several who have gone on to become President of the United States. Those who get caught, however, can have their lives derailed
after getting a criminal record.

● Criminal records for simple marijuana possession has a significant effect on our economy by limiting
our workforce.

Marijuana is safer than alcohol; possession should not be criminalized in Texas


● Marijuana is less toxic, less addictive, and less harmful to the body. It does not contribute to violent and reckless behavior. Responsible adults should not be criminalized or incarcerated for choosing to
consume the safer substance.

● According to the DEA, “No deaths from overdose of marijuana have been reported.”

BIG NEWS: Texas’ First Cannabis Bills Scheduled for a Vote in the House of Representatives!

This week, the Texas House of Representatives will debate and vote on three cannabis bills!

Tuesday: House Bill 2593 would reduce penalties for cannabis concentrates.
 This proposal is incredibly important considering the outrageous felony charges currently assigned to even small amounts of cannabis oils, waxes, and infused edible products.

UPDATE: HB 2593 passed with a vote of 108-33. The bill is now on its way to the Senate for consideration.

Wednesday: Our representatives will consider HB 1535, a bill that aims to expand our state’s Compassionate Use Program. We support this legislation, but wish it went further. Click here to learn more about the bill, read our recommendations to improve the legislation, and contact your representative!

UPDATE: HB 1535 passed with an amendment to include all patients with PTSD, not just veterans. The bill was approved with a vote of 133-12 and advances to the Senate for consideration.

Thursday: The Texas House will vote on HB 441, which reduces penalties for possession of 1oz or less, making the offense a Class C Misdemeanor. It goes further to eliminate the threat of arrest and provides a chance for people to avoid a criminal conviction by offering an opportunity for deferral, dismissal, and non-disclosure. 

UPDATE: HB 441 was approved by the Texas House! It advances to the Senate for consideration.

The House will convene at 10am every day this week, but there’s no way to know exactly when the cannabis bills will be considered. Watch the livestream here at 10am. Follow this Facebook event for live updates and notifications.

Several other bills are making their way through the process and may be coming up for a vote soon. Subscribe for email updates, notifications, and action alerts!

Texas: Support HB 3772 | Marijuana Penalty Reduction – Flower AND Concentrates!

Chairman James White’s HB 3772 will be heard by the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Monday, April 19House Bill 3772 reduces penalties for low-level possession of cannabis flower AND concentrates. 

Here’s how you can help:

1) ACTION ITEM: Ask your representative to co-author HB 3772!

2) Submit written comments electronically. These comments will be included in the official legislative record and are a great way for you to show your support. Comments can be as simple as, “I support this legislation. Thank you for your consideration and service!”

You could also include a personal testimonial if you or a loved one have been impacted by prohibition. Remember to keep it concise and always be respectful when communicating with lawmakers.
(Note: Comments are limited to 3000 characters.)

A live video broadcast of this meeting will be available here when the hearing begins at or after 1pm on Monday. Follow this Facebook event for live updates and a link to the live stream.

Thank you for your support!

Texans overwhelmingly support reducing penalties

According to a 2021 report by the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs, 77% of voters in Texas support a change in the law to limit punishment for the possession of small amounts of marijuana to a fine of $250 without jail time. 

Save tax-funded resources for serious crime

  • Even after the legalization of hemp and with diversion programs in every major metro area of the state, DPS reports more than 45,000 arrests or citations for marijuana possession in 2019.
  • During the same year, 92% of all burglaries — including home invasions — and 89% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved by law enforcement. 
  • Money spent enforcing current laws and arresting, jailing, and supervising people should instead be devoted to pursuing serious criminals. 


Texas should eliminate collateral consequences of a criminal record

  • Indirect consequences for possession can be worse than the punishment and can last a lifetime. Young adults can find careers, new job prospects, housing options, and educational opportunities cut short because of a criminal record.
  • More than half of the U.S. population has tried marijuana, including several who have gone on to become President of the United States. Those who get caught, however, can have their lives derailed after getting a criminal record. 
  • Criminal records for simple marijuana possession has a significant effect on our economy by limiting our workforce.

Recap: Texas Cannabis Week!

It has been a busy week at the Capitol!

Marijuana Penalty Reduction

On Tuesday, eight bills aiming to reduce penalties for marijuana possession were heard in committee. Advocates were at the Capitol from 8:30am-6am for the very long day, but were able to provide valuable testimony for committee members.

If you’re counting, that was 21+ hours waiting to testify on all the bills. We are so grateful for their dedication!

TAKE ACTION: Contact your legislators in support of marijuana penalty reduction!

Medical Cannabis

Yesterday, HB 1535 (medical cannabis) was considered by the Public Health Committee. With two hours to freshen up, many of those same advocates were back at the Capitol to support the bill, which expands the Compassionate Use Program. While the bill doesn’t go as far as we’d like, we do support this effort and made some recommendations for improving the proposal.

The hearing was only 1 hour (watch here) and testimony was cut short. Elizabeth Miller, a patient who came to Austin from DFW to testify, was denied her opportunity to do so (@1:18:30) because the committee didn’t give her enough time – 30 seconds! – to get into the hearing room from the overflow room. This was VERY disappointing.

UPDATE: With a very uncommon move, the committee voted on HB 1535 on the same day as the hearing. They supported it unanimously and the bill advances now to the Calendars Committee to be scheduled for a vote by the House of Representatives. Sadly, there were no amendments made, but our representatives will have a chance to make amendments on the floor and senators can amend it later in the process.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your legislators in support of medical cannabis!

Texas Hemp

On Thursday, the Agriculture & Livestock committee considered HB 3948, which makes some changes to the Texas Hemp Program. 

Amended language was presented by Rep. Tracy King at the hearing, removing several provisions that were alarming to stakeholders, including a ban on Delta 8 and Delta 10 products. Find more information here. When the hearing begins, you can watch the livestream here and submit public comment here.

For live updates, follow this Facebook event page!

Texas: It’s cannabis week at the Capitol!

It’s going to be a busy week at the Capitol with three cannabis-related hearings!

Supporters of reform can submit public comment through an online portal to express support, voice opposition, or share concerns with the committee(s). Follow this Facebook event page for live updates.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021 at 1pm – Marijuana Penalty Reduction
On Tuesday, April 6th, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will meet to consider a number of marijuana bills, which aim to reduce penalties for possession. The meeting will begin at 1pm or upon adjournment of the House. Find more info here, including a breakdown of the bills, the link to submit public comment online, and a link to the livestream.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at 8am – Medical Cannabis
The House Public Health Committee will meet on Wednesday, April 7th to consider HB 1535, a bill intended to improve access to medical cannabis. The meeting will begin at 8am at the Texas Capitol and will be live streamed here. More information available here, including an overview of the bill, our recommendations for improvement, a link to the livestream, and the link to submit public comment online.

Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 8am – Consumable Hemp
This Thursday at 8am, the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee will meet to consider HB 3948, which impacts the regulation and production of hemp and consumable hemp products in Texas. Find more information here, including an excellent analysis from Ritter and Spencer law firm, a link to the livestream, and a link to the online portal for public comment.

Follow this Facebook event page for live updates throughout the week!

Hearing Notice: Medical Cannabis – House Bill 1535 | Wednesday, April 7

The Public Health Committee will meet on Wednesday, April 7th to consider HB 1535, a bill intended to improve access to medical cannabis. The meeting will begin at 8am at the Texas Capitol and will be live streamed here. Follow this event page on Facebook for live updates.

The bill, authored by Committee Chairwoman Stephanie Klick, would add cancer, chronic pain, and PTSD (for veterans only) as qualifying conditions for the Compassionate Use Program. If enacted, HB 1535 would also allow the Department of State Health Services to add new qualifying conditions through their administrative rule-making process.

Additionally, this proposal seeks to raise the cap on THC from .5% to 5% and create “Institutional Review Boards,” which will facilitate research and track the impact of medical cannabis on patients participating in the program.

Here are a few of our recommendations to improve this legislation:

  1. Let Doctor Decide on Access and Dosing
    Doctors (not lawmakers) should determine whether or not a patient can benefit from medical cannabis. They should also be trusted to make decisions on dosing for their patients. Arbitrary limits on THC hurt vulnerable Texans who need it most.
  2. Authorize Independent Labs for Testing and Consumer Protection
    There’s still no mechanism for independent testing of Compassionate Use Program medicine, which is the only way to truly ensure consumer protection and industry accountability.
  3. Protect Physicians
    To participate, doctors are required to “prescribe” cannabis, an act that jeopardizes their registration with the DEA and their ability to prescribe controlled substances to any of their patients. To protect them, we need to change the law and allow them to “certify” a patient for the program, rather than “prescribing” cannabis.
  4. Protect Patients
    There are no patient protections included in this bill. We need to do all we can to protect the vulnerable Texans participating in the Compassionate Use Program. No patient should have their parental rights jeopardized or be disqualified for a job because they use cannabis legally under state law. Gun rights need to be protected and professional licensing should never be compromised because a patient chooses cannabis rather than pharmaceuticals.

Here’s how you can help:

1) Submit written comments electronically. These comments will be included in the official legislative record and are a great way for you to show your support. Comments can be as simple as, “I support this legislation, but wish it went further to expand the Compassionate Use Program. Thank you for your consideration and service!”

You could also include a personal testimonial if you or a loved one have been impacted by medical cannabis or need access to improve your quality of life. Remember to keep it concise and always be respectful when communicating with lawmakers. (Note: 3000 character limit.)

2) Provide written or in-person testimony if you have personal or professional experience. Testimony can be provided several ways: written and submitted electronically, written and delivered in-person (12 copies), or oral testimony submitted in-person on the day of the hearing (2 minutes). If you’re planning to testify in-person, please let us know so we can coordinate. In-person witness registration can be found here. Instructions related to public access to the meeting location and health and safety protocols for attending this meeting are available here. When visiting the Capitol, please always dress professionally.

3) Contact your representative in support of more inclusive access to medical cannabis.

A live video broadcast of this hearing will be available here. Follow this event page on Facebook for live updates on marijuana bills throughout the rest of the legislative session!

Texas Committee Hearing Notice: Marijuana Penalty Reduction Bills | Tuesday, April 6

On Tuesday, April 6th, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will meet to consider a number of marijuana bills which aim to reduce penalties for possession. The meeting will begin at 1pm or upon adjournment of the House.

Follow this Facebook event for live updates and a link to the live stream.

Here’s a look at all the bills and what they do:

Here’s how you can help:

1) Submit written comments electronically. These comments will be included in the official legislative record and are a great way for you to show your support. Comments can be as simple as, “I support this legislation. Thank you for your consideration and service!”

You could also include a personal testimonial if you or a loved one have been impacted by prohibition. Remember to keep it concise and always be respectful when communicating with lawmakers. (Note: Comments are limited to 3000 characters.)

2) Provide written or in-person testimony if you have personal or professional experience. Testimony can be provided several ways: written and submitted electronically, written and delivered in-person (12 copies), or oral testimony submitted in-person on the day of the hearing (2 minutes). If you’re planning to testify in-person, please let us know so we can coordinate. Info about in-person witness registration can be found here. Instructions related to public access to the meeting location and health and safety protocols for attending this meeting are available hereWhen visiting the Capitol, please always dress professionally.

3) Contact your representative in support of marijuana penalty reduction!

A live video broadcast of this hearing will be available here. Follow this Facebook event for live updates and a link to the live stream.

Check out the educational exhibit we recently hosted at the Capitol in support of marijuana penalty reduction.

Texas House Committee Hearing: Marijuana Penalty Reduction | (HB 1086)

Today, the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence will host a hearing for HB 1086, Rep. Moody’s proposal to adjust weight limits and penalties for possession of larger amounts of marijuana (among other changes to the prison system).

The hearing will begin at 2pm (or whenever the House adjourns for the day). If you support this bill, you can testify in person or click here to submit written comments electronically. A live video broadcast of this hearing will be available here.

ACTION: Please take a moment to let your legislator know that you support reducing penalties for marijuana possession!

More Information About HB 1086

HB 1086 broadly reforms our criminal justice system. The bill eliminates the state jail felony (SJF) system and reduces most SJFs to misdemeanors. HB 1086 would impact marijuana policy by adjusting weight limits and reducing penalties for possession of marijuana flower* and small amounts of THC concentrates. 

*Marijuana flowers are commonly known as the buds of a cannabis plant that contain more than .3% THC.

How to Support HB 1086:

  1. NEW: Submit your support and/or written comment electronically: https://comments.house.texas.gov/home?c=c220 
  2. Register your support at the Capitol: https://mytxlegis.capitol.texas.gov/HWRSPublic/About.aspx

COVID Guidelines: https://house.texas.gov/committees/public-access-house-committee-meetings/

WATCH LIVE: District Court Hearing on Smokable Hemp in Texas

As you may recall, last August, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) adopted an administrative rule banning in-state retail sales of smokable hemp products (including CBD vape cartridges). Since then, hemp industry leaders have been fighting back with a lawsuit against the State of Texas!

Attorneys in the case have argued that DSHS does not have the rule-making authority to ban retail sales of this LEGAL product. A temporary injunction has been in place for months, keeping the state from enforcing their arbitrary rule. This morning the 261st Civil District Court will hear from both sides. Judge Lora Livingston’s ruling in this case will either uphold or strike down the rule. WATCH LIVE!

Here’s some background info: http://www.texasmarijuanapolicy.org/2020/05/14/texas-cbd-ban-retail-sales/


There’s also a legislative hearing happening today on penalty reduction for marijuana possession.

House Committee Hearing: Marijuana Penalty Reduction 
(Happening at or after 2pm.)

Later today, the Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence will host a hearing for HB 1086, Rep. Moody’s proposal to adjust weight limits and penalties for possession of larger amounts of marijuana (among other changes to the prison system).

The hearing will begin at 2pm (or whenever the House adjourns for the day). If you support this bill, you can testify in person or click here to submit written comments electronically. A live video broadcast of this hearing will be available here.

ACTION: Please take a moment to let your legislator know that you support reducing penalties for marijuana possession!



Virtual Lobby Day is next Monday. Let’s make a big impact!
It’s a two-part event, with orientation on Sunday, March 28 and Virtual Lobby Day on Monday, March 29. Learn more and register for orientation to participate in Lobby Day.