Earlier this week, the Texas Legislature adjourned after its 140-day legislative session. This year's session brought successes and setbacks. Prohibitionists went to great lengths to keep the status quo and some of their reefer madness unfortunately worked.
Industrial Hemp Legalization – HB 1325 legalizes industrial hemp in Texas and establishes a regulatory structure so that Texans may soon start growing hemp.
Limited Low-THC Medical Cannabis Expansion – HB 3703 removes the two-physician requirement for a medical marijuana card and expands the qualifying conditions to include: epilepsy, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, ALS, autism, terminal cancer, and incurable neurodegenerative diseases. It does not change the 0.5% THC cap. HB 3703 is currently on Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.
What Fell Short:
Marijuana Decriminalization – HB 63, which would have replaced possible jail time with a fine, passed in the Texas House but stalled in the Texas Senate after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made it his mission to kill the bill.
Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Expansion – HB 1365 would have expanded qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, increased the number of dispensaries, and established a research review board that could allow different amounts of cannabinoids. This bill passed in the Texas House but did not receive a hearing in the Senate.
Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature won't be back in session until 2021. That means two more years of patients suffering and needless arrests. We want to congratulate everyone who worked so hard to make progress, including Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy.
Support for marijuana reform is at an all-time high so let's keep our chins up and keep pushing. Together, we can change marijuana laws in Texas.
Kentucky advocates for medical marijuana received a pleasant surprise last week when several media outlets reported that House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) is now “leaning in favor” of passing a medical marijuana law.
Stumbo, formerly the state’s attorney general, has long been considered an opponent of reforming marijuana laws. When Kentucky was considering a bill to allow industrial hemp earlier this year, Stumbo’s attempt to block the bill resulted ina public dispute with the state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer. Stumbo eventually relented under strong public pressure and allowed the bill to pass.
Although industrial hemp and medical marijuana are very different issues, advocates feared Stumbo would take a similar attitude toward medical marijuana legislation. His recent comments would appear to pave the way for the Kentucky House to seriously consider a medical marijuana bill in 2014.
If you are a Kentucky resident, please click here to write your elected officials and ask them to sign on in support of medical marijuana legislation.