Prefiled Cannabis Bills in Texas
The 87th Texas State Legislature will convene in January of the new year, and prefiled bills are already vying for position, including many cannabis-related bills. Many Texas legislators are either hoping to join other states in the legalization of cannabis or are simply addressing what they see as the writing on the wall regarding this topic.
How Things Stand in Texas
Currently, marijuana in every form is illegal in the State of Texas, which corresponds with federal laws on the matter. Because Texas has no ballot initiative (the way states like California do), changes in the law must be pursued through the legislative process. Further, because the Texas legislature meets only 140 days every two years, the process of change is often protracted. And this is exactly why there are so many cannabis bills at the ready for 2021.
Decriminalization of Marijuana
The laws related to possession of marijuana in Texas are exceptionally harsh, and the newly proposed legislature addresses this issue directly by seeking decriminalization of marijuana possession. The basics include the following (for a first-time offender who is caught with less than a specific amount):
The accused will not be arrested.
The accused will not spend time in jail.
The possession will not become part of the accused’s criminal record.
Under many of the newly proposed legislation filings, possession charges would be treated in a manner similar to minor traffic violations, would experience reduced penalties, would substitute a fee for a criminal prosecution, and/or would halt automatic driver’s license suspension.
Legal Medical Usage
Many states have legalized medical cannabis, which means that doctors in those states can recommend marijuana for the treatment of health conditions deemed eligible by the state in question. Typically, these conditions include health concerns such as cancer, glaucoma, and PTSD.
A few bills seek to take the matter further by legalizing marijuana across the board. In general terms, these bills seek to accomplish all of the following:
To legalize the medical and recreational use of marijuana
To remove the state’s penalties related to possession (within specific parameters)
To pave the way for legally growing marijuana in one’s own home
To authorize taxation for the sale, manufacture, cultivation, distribution, possession, use, and testing of cannabis and cannabis products
While the outcome remains to be seen, the breadth and number of prefiled cannabis bills demonstrate that the State of Texas is at least considering going the way of other states in addressing the matter of marijuana.