HB 3948 (Hemp) Goes to Conference CommitteeMay 29, 2021
Cannabis legislation recap for the Texas 87th LegislatureMay 31, 2021
As passed out of the House and Senate State Affairs Committee hearing, HB 2593 garnered broad support, including favorable testimony from a sitting district attorney in north Texas and numerous advocacy organizations. There was an unnecessary amendment in the Senate floor debate which stood to have a major impact on the Delta-8 market. Learn more about Delta-8. Since there were differing versions from the chambers, the House author (Speaker Pro Tempore Joe Moody) decided to go to a Conference Committee.
We have been successful in getting the problematic amendment removed! This final legislation, which is heading to the Governor’s desk, will make important changes in our code which will have real life impacts on Texans. HB 2593 will reduce the penalty for possession of cannabis concentrates and infused products (2 ounces or less) from a felony to a Class B misdemeanor (same as current penalties for marijuana flower). This bill would cover cannabis oils used in vape pens, tinctures, or infused lotions. Edible products such as baked goods or lozenges are also included in this penalty group. The Conference Report must be accepted by the House and Senate by midnight tonight to advance to the Governor’s Desk. (Read the Conference Report.)
As passed out of the House, HB 3948 garnered broad support from Texas farmers, industry, and businesses. The bill creates an important licensure process for research, cleans up some language for Texas farmers, allows hemp feed, and more. The Senate added an amendment with language addressing “synthetics” which strictly limits Delta-8 products and THC in general. With differing House and Senate versions, the House author (Rep. Tracy King) decided to go to a conference committee. The authors did not come to an agreement in time and the bill is now dead due to not meeting a deadline last night.
It is imperative that we focus on effectively regulating the cannabis market. Prohibition is expensive, ineffective, and a failed policy. It is important that we regulate the market to ensure consumer protection and quality products, restrict access to those under the age of 21, save taxpayer money, and generate revenue.
A bill which will codify patient protections for those that are in the Texas Compassionate Use Program (T.CUP) and protect them from being harassed by child protective services is on it’s way to becoming law!
Chairwoman Klick decided against going through the potentially time consuming Conference Committee and has accepted the Senate changes. This means that HB 1535’s final version, which now heads to the Governor’s desk, increases the THC cap from 0.5 percent to 1 percent, allows patients with PTSD and all forms of cancer to qualify, and facilitates research programs.
While these are extremely important changes, Texas NORML is saddened to see such integral elements removed from the legislation. We are encouraged by broadened efforts but will continue to advocate for a robust program which allows doctors to decide which conditions and symptoms could benefit from medical cannabis, removing the arbitrary THC cap, and solidifying patient protections.
This session has been an epic whirlwind with many adversities. While we have made some improvements in the laws this session, what we are most proud of is our team. We were repeatedly told no, that our bills were dead or that they wouldn’t give us any more. We pushed back! We forced Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to move the medical bill to a Senate committee and then for a hearing so we could ensure access to more patients. We created enough pressure to ensure that HB 2593 passed as filed, without the problematic amendment. We pushed back on the Delta-8 ban and were able to mitigate harm to businesses and consumers. This may not be the session we deserved or wanted but we worked very hard for it and I am so proud of you.
To that end, let us celebrate our determination, integrity, and these hard fought wins. Join us for our End of Session party on Monday, May 31st from 4:20-9pm! We will enjoy food, ice cream, drink, music from Scrapelli, and each other’s company at The Belmont, which has a lovely outdoor patio and bar area. If there is bad weather, we can use the air-conditioned inside, which is mask optional. While entry to the event is free, we suggest a $20 donation to help offset the many costs of the session. (Event is 18+)
We will be raffling off two tickets to Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival show in Austin, TX on August 22nd. We will have four packages put together for us by GRAV and 420 Science. (Raffle tickets: 1 for $5 | 5 for $20) Event Details