Texas Bills to expand medical marijuana program and demand psychedelics study, head to governor’s office
In the closing days of the Texas legislative session, lawmakers sent bills to the governor’s office that would expand the state’s medical marijuana program and require a study of the therapeutic potential of certain psychedelics for military veterans.
Meanwhile, legislation to reduce penalties for possession of cannabis concentrates and to update the advancing state’s hemp program failed to cross the finish line by key deadlines in the country. weekend course.
This completes an exceptionally busy legislative session for drug policy reform in Lone Star State. While supporters are encouraged that lawmakers have moved forward with the medical marijuana and psychedelic drug measures, they remain disappointed that they were unable to pass more expensive cannabis bills – y included a decriminalization proposal that cleared the House but saw no action in the Senate.
“This session has been an epic whirlwind with many adversities. While we made some improvements to the laws this session, what we’re most proud of is our team, ”Jax Finkel, executive director of Texas NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “We were told several times no, that our bills were dead or that they would not give us any more. Texas has pushed back!
As far as wins go, here’s what Bills now heading to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office (right) would accomplish:
HB 1535: The measure would add cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that qualify patients for medical cannabis. As passed in the House, it would also have included chronic pain as a qualifying condition, but it was removed by the Senate and was not added again in a conference committee.
In addition, the legislation doubled the THC cap for marijuana products from 0.5% to 1%. Originally, the House-approved version increased the limit to five percent, but this was watered down in the Senate.
HB 1802: Under this bill, the state would be required to study the medical risks and benefits of psilocybin, MDMA, and ketamine for veterans, in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and a medical center. military vocation. As amended by a House committee, it would also require a psilocybin clinical trial for veterans with PTSD, in addition to a broader review of the scientific literature on the three substances.
The Senate passed a balanced budget amendment to the bill clarifying that psychedelic studies would not be conducted unless funds were allocated to the effort – a situation already explained by a conditional rider for funds. The House accepted this change before sending it to the governor.
“Psychedelic medicine has the potential to completely change society’s approach to treating mental health, and research is the first step in achieving this transformation,” said representative Alex Dominguez (D), sponsor of the bill, in a press release. “They say ‘just like Texas, the nation is going too.’ As states across the country reflect on how best to deal with the mental health crisis facing our country, I hope they look to Texas again for leadership. “
But the lawyers didn’t get everything they wanted.
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A bill to reduce penalties for cannabis concentrates was passed by both houses in different forms and then rolled out of the conference committee. But an amendment added to the Senate that would have implications for delta-8-THC proved untenable for the House sponsor, who insisted on going to the conference rather than accepting the other body’s changes.
The House approved the resulting report, which removed controversial language that would have caused hemp products to be tested for all forms of tetrahydrocannabinol to calculate potency. But the Senate didn’t even hold a vote on final legislation before Sunday’s deadline, killing the proposal.
The general thrust of the bill would have made possession of up to two ounces of concentrate a Class B offense, which would still carry the threat of jail time, but would have represented a significant reduction in his status as a current crime.
Another bill to impose rules on the transportation and testing of consumable hemp products died in conference as negotiators were unable to deliver a report before the deadline. Again, the problem was with an amendment added by the Senate that would have banned products containing more than traces of delta-8-THC.
The effect of the change would be similar to that of the amendment added to the separate cannabis concentrates bill.
While lawyers are happy that the language is not adopted, the legality of the compound under current law remains in question. The State Department of State Health Services released a memo late last year that some interpreted to mean that delta-8-THC is currently banned, despite its prevalence in the market.
Supporters also remain frustrated that the legislature did not pass a sweeping decriminalization measure that cleared the House. He was never assigned to a Senate committee and did not move forward on time. This would have made possession of an ounce of cannabis a Class C offense that does not come with the threat of imprisonment.
A separate law to clarify that a positive marijuana test on its own is not sufficient criteria to remove a child from their home was passed without the governor’s signature this month and takes effect on September 1, 2021.
“Thanks to relentless defenders, it was a hard-fought session. Unfortunately, we have been pushed by oppressive state leaders and partisan crossfire, ”Heather Fazio, Texans director for responsible marijuana policy, told Marijuana Moment. “Even a watered-down medical bill had to be dragged to the finish line. We will continue the fight, grow our movement, and work to end marijuana prohibition in Texas.
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Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.