Texas moves a step closer to embracing cannabis with House approval of several bills

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Texas lawmakers are making progress with expanded cannabis activity in the state

Texas may be easing its thinking on marijuana, and the House of Representatives last week passed bills that help decriminalize marijuana possession while also seeking to expand the state’s medical marijuana program so that people with illnesses can find help from the plant. So far, these updates are expected to be the latest in a busy week that has seen multiple legislative reforms introduced in the House.

The bill that seeks to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis aims to turn the crime into a Class C misdemeanor, which does not involve incarceration as punishment. This bill was passed on second reading in the House by voice vote. Representative Erin Zwiener, the sponsor of this legislation, has as her main goal no arrests due to low-level possession that, as a result, would prevent many people from also suffering from secondary problems, such as terminations from the workplace. If this bill is to be placed on the Senate floor, it will first have to receive a positive vote on the third reading. Something similar happened in 2019 when the House passed a bill with similar ideals, but it did not advance in the Senate.

On the other hand, separate legislation touching on key medical cannabis issues also received final approval in the House on a 134-12 vote and now heads to the Senate. People suffering from chronic pain, cancer, and post-traumatic stress disorder could be eligible for medical cannabis treatment. While advocates are grateful for lawmakers’ efforts to expand the existing program, they hope there is room for improvement and that there should be more amendments so that more patients can have access to cannabis when it reaches the Senate.