Marijuana Decriminalization Stalls in This Legislative Session

Texas Marijuana Law August 2017 Update / 

Changes from the 85th Legislature

Although no marijuana criminal reform bills made it to the Governor’s desk this year, a number of bills were introduced—and some even gathered support from Republicans and Democrats alike. Change may be slow in coming, but this recent slew of bills demonstrates that many legislators have made marijuana reform into a top priority.[1]

One such bill, House Bill 81—authored by Joe Moody—was aimed at reducing the excessive criminal penalties associated with marijuana that is possessed for personal use.[2] If passed, the bill would have eliminated all criminal penalties for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana. Instead, the possessor would have only been subject to a civil fine of $250 or less. HB 81 was successfully voted out of committee, but did not receive a floor vote. An identical version of the bill was also introduced during the 85th Special Session as HB 334, but that version of the bill did not make it out of committee during the special session.[3]

Additionally, a second bill, HB 2200, was also introduced that was aimed at reducing the criminal liability for caregivers and physicians that recommend marijuana for a medical purpose.[4] The bill, introduced by Gina Hinajosa, would have provided physicians with an affirmative defense against any criminal, civil, or administrative penalties associated with the use of medical marijuana by qualified patients. Furthermore, the bill also would have provided protections for caregivers that were found with medical marijuana for their patients. Unlike HB 81, this bill failed to make it out of committee.

[1] Stephen Young, The State of Marijuana in Texas After the 2017 Legislative Session, Dallas Observer (June 1, 2017, 11 AM), http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/texas-legislature-2017-marijuana-law-recap-9522506.

[2] HB 81, 85th Leg., Reg. Sess. (Tex. 2017).

[3] HB 334, 85th Leg., Spec. Sess. (Tex. 2017).

[4] HB 2200, 85th Leg., Reg. Sess. (Tex. 2017).


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