There has been a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for the reform of marijuana laws in the state of Texas over the past several weeks, but all hope has since been abandoned after the state legislature tossed several pieces of legislation into the garbage.
Although the word on the street—as of last week—was that two bills aimed at decriminalizing and legalizing the leaf for recreational purposes were given the green light to appear this session before the House of Representatives, sources were unfamiliar with the cutthroat authority of the House Calendar Committee’s Todd Hunter. As the deadline approached, it became readily apparent that the legislative gatekeeper was simply refusing to submit the bills to the full House for their consideration—ultimately, killing both measures before they even got started.
The first bill to meet its unfortunate demise was House Bill 507, introduced by Representative Joe Moody, which would have eliminated the criminal penalties associated with petty pot possession and replaced them with a maximum fine of $250. Of course, the passing of this legislation would have had a significant impact on the way the state handles pot offenders, perhaps even laying the groundwork for fewer restrictions in the years to come. As it stands, anyone busted for possession of up to two ounces can spend six months in jail and receive a fine of as much as $2,000.
However, the biggest tragedy of the Lone Star State’s attempt at pot reform was the highly anticipated House Bill 2165, which would have put an end to the prohibition of marijuana across the state by allowing the cannabis plant to be regulated in a manner similar to tomatoes. This measure, which was proposed by Representative David Simpson, would have made Texas one of the next states to establish a fully legal cannabis industry, putting it in the same ranks as four other states where voters have made the decision to end the war on weed.
As it stands, there is now only one marijuana-related proposal still fighting for survival in the grips of the Texas legislature. House Bill 892 and its companion measure Senate Bill 339 seek to legalize an extremely restrictive medical marijuana program that would essentially legalize cannabidiol or CBD, a non-intoxicating compound of marijuana, for patients suffering from epilepsy and other chronic conditions.
Although cannabis advocates support the sentiment behind this “low-THC bill,” they claim it is not sufficient enough in its current form to facilitate a functional program.