Texas pot is still unlikely, at least for a few years, but there are major efforts towards either decriminalization or legalization of medical marijuana. An amendment failed to pass last year but the state congress did have bills on cannabis to consider during their last legislative session.
Marijuana reform is headed for Texas, but it probably won’t get here anytime soon.
During the 85th Texas legislative session, which ended in May, two cannabis reform bills made it further than pretty much any similar efforts have before. Although both laws had an apparent majority in the Texas House of Representatives, the session ended before they could be voted on.
One bill aimed to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. The other tried to create a real medical marijuana program. While the bills’ legislative journey says a lot about how much politicians in Texas have warmed to marijuana, it will probably be at least two or three more years before the state sees any big changes to its pot laws.
Marijuana activists – still reeling from a bitter defeat in May — are now looking ahead to the 2018 midterm elections, as well as the start of a new legislative session in 2019, as the first realistic points when they can try for decriminalization and medical marijuana reform again. The Houston branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is writing a new version of House Bill 2107, the failed medical bill, in the hopes of getting a local representative to sponsor it in 2019, according to spokeswoman Samantha Oser.
To secure any real changes to the state’s cannabis laws, Oser argued Texas will first need to “elect representatives that are more progressive, and not just for cannabis reform” during the 2018 midterm elections. Part of that meant getting money out of politics. Oser recently wrote an article outlining the donations sent from alcohol, health care and pharmaceutical companies to Senator Charles Schwertner and Representative Four Price — two high-ranking state Republicans who Oser felt had helped kill the marijuana reform laws.
Despite those big goals, Oser was optimistic. “As far as next session goes, we feel pretty confident that we will be able to get something done,” she said. “Especially now that the donors have been exposed.”
Heather Fazio, spokeswoman for the Texas branch of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), plans to attend a special session of the Texas Legislature in July. No marijuana bills are scheduled for the session. But if there’s any way MPP can squeeze a marijuana reform amendment into a separate piece of legislation, Fazio says she doesn’t want to miss that chance.