The Texas House took a momentous step yesterday by passing a bill that makes marijuana possession a civil penalty subject to a $250 fine. Today, individuals charged with marijuana possession face a misdemeanor charge and penalties of up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
This is a tremendous victory given that the bill was filed in November 2018, and read by the House for the first time in February. The problem is that the Texas Legislature has twenty-eight (28) days to get the legislation through the Senate before the legislative session closes on May 27, 2019. If it is not passed, the Texas Legislature must wait to reconsider when it reconvenes in 2021.
Texas is currently considering 30 bills relating to medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, and hemp. The House accounted for introducing over 66% of the bills and drove their consideration. The Legislature took action on 100% of the bills since February, and 53% of the bills during April. Last week, the House considered hemp, medical marijuana, and medical marijuana low-thc bills. The medical marijuana bill expands Texas' narrowly constructed program.
The level of engagement with marijuana legislation is tremendous. However, it is not clear whether the House bills will get the same level of attention in the Senate, which is needed to pass the legislation ahead of the witching hour. We are encouraged by the movement in Texas. However, it may be too little too late for results in this legislative session. See you in 2021 y’ all!