The 86th Legislative Session saw a record number of marijuana related bills filed in both the House and the Senate. There were some important advancements, powerful hearings, and a few disappointments this year. While the last day of the session was May 27th, Governor Greg Abbott has until June 16th to ignore into law, sign, or veto any bills.
Here is where they stand:
Create Industrial Hemp Program (HB 1325) – HB 1325 passed with unanimous support in the House and Senate. The Governor signed this bill into statue on June 10th, 2019. The regulatory process will now begin. Stay tuned for updates on the progress. The legalization of industrial hemp is HUGE for Texas, especially for our farmers who were being cut out of the hemp industry.
Limited Expansion of the Compassionate Use Program (HB 3703) – HB 3703 passed the House with a bipartisan super majority and unanimously out of the Senate. It now sits on the Governor’s desk. While this bill is a very limited expansion, it will allow Texans with seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, incurable neurodegenerative disease, autism, ALS, and spasticity to qualify for the Texas Compassionate Use Program. Since the bill passed with more than a two-thirds majority, unless vetoed it will go into effect immediately. With such overwhelming support, it is likely that the Governor will allow this legislation to pass. There was some interesting discussion on the Senate floor about medical cannabis, with some Senators advocating for more inclusive legislation while others questioned the value of the program and the medicine.
Penalty Reduction for Possession (HB 63) – HB 63 passed with a bipartisan super majority in the House, but was single-handedly stalled by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick when he refused to refer it to the Criminal Justice Committee in the Senate for a hearing. Despite hearing from thousands of Texans who wanted this legislation to advance, the Lt Governor took this action which is out of step with the platform of the Lt Governor’s own party. This failure to act will mean another 120K+ Texans will be arrested for marijuana possession between now and the next legislative session in 2021.
Expand and Fix the Compassionate Use Program, Establish Review Board (HB 1365) – HB 1365 passed with a bipartisan super majority in the House, but never received a hearing in the Senate. With the failure of this bill to advance through the Senate, many Texas patients will be forced to wait another 2 years to gain access to Texas Compassionate Use Program.
Review how all of the sixty plus bills fared this session:
There is clearly more work for us to do between now and the next session in 2021. It is very frustrating when the avenue for changing laws in Texas can feel so far removed from the people. But, there are many ways we can continue to gain momentum and change minds:
- We need to participate in primary elections and the political party convention process while engaging with candidates leading up to the general elections.
- Brush up on your activism basics.
- Stay tuned for information on our upcoming events, seminars, trainings and workshops.
Texas NORML’s Board remains dedicated to dismantling prohibition in Texas.