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84th Regular Session – Legislative Review 2015 – Texas NORML

texasnorml-2015-header

84th Regular Session
Legislative Review 2015
Texas NORML

June 1st was the last day of the 84th Regular Legislative Session. The 2015 Legislative Session was both fast paced and historic. We went from having the same 2 limited bills being introduced every session for the last decade to a dozen bills in this session alone! We would like to review each bill and its progress through the session.Civil Penalties (HB 507) – Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) – Eliminated the arrest, jail time, and criminal record associated with the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana — replacing them with a fine. House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Hearing Date: April 8, 2015. On May 4th, the bill received a favorable vote of 4-2Two hundred seven Texans visited the Capitol to support HB 507 while 17 people spoke against the bill — most of whom work for the government. Calendars chairman, Rep. Todd Hunter did not bring the bill up for consideration by the Calendars Committee as he agreed to do and the bill died there.

Civil Penalties (SB 1417) – Senator Ellis (D-Houston) – Senate companion bill to HB 507. This bill did not receive a hearing.

Decriminalization (HB 325) — Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston) – Reduced penalty for 0.35 ounces or less of marijuana, moving the offense from a Class B misdemeanor to Class C. House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Hearing Date: April 8, 2015. Wu joined Rep. Moody as a joint author of HB 507. The bill was left pending in committee

Decriminalization (HB 414) — Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) – Bill Summary: Reduced penalty for one ounce or less of marijuana from a Class B misdemeanor to Class C. House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Hearing Date: April 8, 2015. Dutton joined Rep. Moody as a joint author of HB 507. The bill was left pending in committee.

Repeal Prohibition (HB 2165) – Rep. David Simpson (R – Longview) – Repeals all offenses associated with marijuana, except for minors. House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Hearing Date: April 8, 2015. 171 in support, 22 against — most of whom work for the government. On May 6th the bill was called to a vote and passed out with a 5-2 vote making national news and history! Simpson joined Rep. Moody as a joint author of HB 507.The bill was not placed on calendar and died in the Calendar Committee.

Hemp Research (HB 557) – Rep. Joe Farias (D-San Antonio)- Allows the cultivation of hemp for certain research purposes. House Agriculture & Livestock Committee Hearing Date: March 18, 2015. The bill was voted on April 8th and passed out of committee 7-0. The bill was added to the Calendar for 5/14/15, but without time for a vote.

Hemp Industrial (HB 1322) — Rep. Joe Farias (D-San Antonio) – Allows the industrial production and sale of hemp in Texas. House Committee Hearing Date: March 18, 2015. The bill was left pending in Agriculture & Livestock Committee.

Medical Marijuana (HB 3785) – Rep. Marisa Marquez (D-El Paso) – Created a whole plant, comprehensive medical marijuana program. House Public Health Committee Hearing Date: April 28, 2015. The hearing was moving and impactful. Patients stayed until the early morning hours. This bill was left Pending in Public Health, where it died, due to Rep Crownover refusing to call a vote.

Medical Marijuana (SB 1839) –  Senator Menendez (D-San Antonio) – Senate companion bill to HB 3785. This bill did not receive a hearing.

Affirmative Defense (HB 837) – Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) – Creates an affirmative defense to prosecution for patients using marijuana medicinally and protected caregivers and doctors. House Public Health Committee Hearing Date: April 28, 2015. This bill was left Pending in Public Health, where it died, due to Crownover refusing to call a vote.

Low-THC Medical Marijuana aka CBD Only (HB 892) – Rep. Klick (R-Fort Worth) – Allows qualifying patients with intractable epilepsy to access low-THC cannabis oil by prescription. House Public Health Committee Hearing Date: April 28, 2015. The bill passed out of Committee with a vote of 8-1. The bill was added to the Calendar for 5/14/15, but without time for a vote. Its Senate companion bill was just signed into law.

Low-THC Medical Marijuana (SB 339) aka Texas Compassionate Use Act – Sen. Eltife (R-Tyler) – Allows qualifying patients with intractable epilepsy to access low-THC cannabis oil by prescription. While this program is very restrictive and there are concerns about whether or not it’ll be functional, this is an historic moment where Texas is acknowledging that CANNABIS IS MEDICINE!

Senate Health and Human Services Committee Hearing Date: April 29, 2015
Senate HHS Committee Vote: 8-1 / Senate Vote: 26-5
House Public Health Committee Vote: 7-1 / House Vote: 108-38
Signed into law by Gov Abbott on June 1
Items of note about the bill –
*If signed into law, the bill would go into effect immediately. However, the Department of Public Safety would have until December 1, 2015, to adopt rules, and businesses would likely not be licensed until September 1, 2017, as specified in the bill.
*Texas bill requires that qualified doctors join a physician registry and include information in the registry itself such as the dosage recommendations, means of administration, and the total amount of low-THC cannabis required to fill the patient’s prescription. The prescription would also order a licensed marijuana establishment to distribute cannabis to the patient. In several respects, the Texas law attempts to mimic the prescription system put in place by federal authorities.
*The patient must be a permanent resident of the state, diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. In addition, the physician is required to have provided two or more different treatments approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) that did not alleviate the patient’s seizures. Finally, no other FDA-approved treatment options may be available or appropriate for the patient.
*A physician may prescribe low-THC cannabis under the Texas bill if he or she is licensed to make such prescriptions, dedicates a significant portion of his or her clinical practice to the evaluation and treatment of epilepsy, and is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in epilepsy or neurology.
*Intractable epilepsy is the only condition that qualifies. Intractable epilepsy is defined as a seizure disorder in which the patient’s seizures have been treated by two or more appropriately chosen and maximally titrated anti-epileptic drugs that have failed to control the seizures.We now have a recorded vote for almost every legislator at the Capitol! We are now compiling what Reps and Senators voted how so that we can identify our allies and our opponents. We are making plans for the upcoming Election Cycle and plan to focus on key districts. We cannot let up during the down season, we have to continue visiting and educating our elected officials, we have to get out and VOTE in 2016 for cannabis friendly candidates. Texas NORML will have a 2016 Voter’s Guide available for you.

We’re making incredible progress, national headlines, and exceeding expectations. This is an endurance race and we appreciate your stamina. Now is not the time to rest, there is still more work ahead.

Thank you for taking ACTION! Please participate in Thanking Our Allies and cultivating our relationships with them.

We will continue to build the path to a Texas without Cannabition. Please donate to our efforts here. Participate in our Lobby Campaign here.
Your Texas NORML Team
www.TexasNORML.org

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