Multiple Cannabis Bills Pre-Filed In Texas Legislature

Cannabis legalization took several strides forward during the 2018 midterm elections with wins for medical and recreational marijuana at the state and local level.

One week after the 2018 midterm elections, the state of Texas is quickly preparing for next year’s round of lawmaking with hundreds of measures already filed. The number is likely to grow to over 10,000 by the end of the filing period on March 8, though the majority of them will never become law.

Monday, November 12 was the first day that lawmakers could pre-file bills for the 2019 legislative season and, of the more than 400 hundred that were filed, ten of them focused on cannabis.

Representative Joe Moody [D-El Paso] filed HB63 yesterday, a measure that would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and replace jail times with fines. Amounts over one ounce would be subject to harsher penalties.

Five medicinal cannabis bills were also filed yesterday, further illustrating how important having access to marijuana medicine is to people.

Companion bills SB90 and HB209 would authorize the cultivation, distribution, and possession of medicinal cannabis, and allow for its use by qualifying patients. The measures also provide legal protections for patients who home-school their children, are financially disadvantaged, or have been charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor.

HB122 provides an affirmative defense against prosecution for cannabis use under the recommendation of a licensed physician, similar to Prop 215 which California voters passed in 1996.

SJR7 and HJR21 are two constitutional amendments that would “authorize the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis for medical use.” If the bills pass, they will be placed before Texas voters on November 5, 2019.

SJR8 is a constitutional amendment that is identical to SJR7 but refers to general legalization rather than just medical marijuana specifically.

But lawmakers aren’t just focused on medical and recreational uses in Texas this season as Senator José Rodriguez [D-El Paso] introduced SB116 yesterday, a bill to establish a system for the regulation, sale, and distribution of industrial hemp.

Senator Rodriguez also filed SB156 yesterday, a bill that would make possession of up to an ounce of marijuana a civil infraction with a fine of up to $250.

HB186 is a bill regarding the determination of cannabis product weight during criminal prosecution and would disregard dilutants and other foreign substances from the final weighing.

The 86th Texas legislature will convene for its biannual 140-day season on January 8, 2019.