Marijuana Policy Reform in Texas Reached New Heights This Session
Though the clock is up for House bills to be voted on by the Texas House, a few high profile marijuana bills made notable advancements this session. Despite not reaching a full vote by the House, these bills achieved promising success, garnering major bipartisan support from Republican and Democrat lawmakers. The significant strides forward in the conversation of marijuana policy is an encouraging sign that Texas is on its way to joining the 28 states that have enacted serious marijuana policy reform.
One of the highest profile marijuana bills, HB 81 by Rep. Joe Moody (D- El Paso), saw welcomed progress this session. The bill would decriminalize minor marijuana possession, replacing jail time with a civil fine. Last session, Rep. Moody filed the proposed reform for the first time as HB 507. HB 81 was placed on the General Intent Calendar, getting further than it did last session when it did not make it onto the House calendar after passing out of committee — and further than any other marijuana bill this session. With broad support from legislators on both sides of the aisle and rapidly growing support of decriminalization among Texans, Rep. Moody’s bill for more sensible marijuana policy is expected to see serious success in the next session.
Two other promising bills this session- HB 2107 by Rep. Eddie Lucio III and HB 3587 by Rep. Bill Zedler- made their way out of committee with bipartisan support. HB 3587 would have instituted a federal “industrial hemp” pilot program. HB 2107, which would largely legalize medical marijuana, picked up a total of 77 co-authors who signed onto the bill after a day of devastating testimonies from veterans, parents of children with epilepsy and autism, and others seeking relief from their conditions. This is a big win for reform advocates especially since the bill did not pass out of committee last session despite widespread public support for medicinal use at the time. The overwhelming support from lawmakers for these bill highlights a more serious tone in the conversation about marijuana policy reform at the Capitol that will continue to gain strength and momentum.
The advancement of these bills underscores the rising prominence of marijuana policy reform for both parties. Marijuana is no longer a fringe issue in Texas, and the stage is set for major legislative progress next session.