Texas Legislature Moves Forward on Marijuana Related Bills

A young cannabis plant grows at The Joint Cooperative in Seattle, Washington

The Texas Senate voted 26 to 5 on Thursday to allow the use of cannabis oil treatment for epilepsy patients. Senator Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) is the author of the Senate Bill 339. According to the Quorum Report, the Senator said “he is very appreciative of my senate colleagues for passing this bill that gives hope of help for those with intractable epilepsy.”

A bill that would legalize marijuana cleared the Texas State House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Wednesday and is on its way to the calendars committee and then presumably the House floor.

The bill, House Bill 2165 is sponsored by conservative Republican House Representative David Simpson (R-Longview).

Earlier this week, the same committee members voted 4-2 in favor of a bill to decriminalization marijuana. This was the first time that such a measure has been successful in getting out of committee.

John Baucom, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (R.A.M.P.) political director said, “The progress of this bill reflects that our legislature is starting to catch up with average Texas on the issue of marijuana. I’m optimistic that moving forward, we have a chance to really debate this issue and end this bad law once and for all.”

Rep. David Simpson says that because marijuana is something given to us by God, it should not be banned by the government.

In a Trib Talk op-ed in March 2015 entitled “The Christian case for drug law reform,” the lawmaker wrote “As a Christian, I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same.” He continued, “I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.”

Rep. Simpson wrote “You would think that our country’s history with alcohol prohibition – an era marked by bootlegging, organized crime, government corruption and a rise in crime in general – would have prevented us from making the same mistake again.”

He says the government’s “war on drugs” have accomplished the very opposite. He says as a result, there are “ever-changing exotic designer drugs and a disregard for constitutional protections in the name of eliminating drugs at any cost.” He wrote, “Just think of no-knock warrants, stop-and-frisk, civil asset forfeiture and billionaire drug lords.”

The conservative Republican representative says that “The time has come for a thoughtful discussion of the prudence of the prohibition approach to drug abuse, the impact of prohibition enforcement on constitutionally protected liberties and the responsibilities that individuals must take for their own actions.”

H.B. 2165 would amend the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the Education Code, and the Government Code, Health and Safety Code, and other codes that have criminal and other penalties associated with marijuana.

The bill passed in the Committee by a vote of 5 to 2. Representatives Chairman Abel Herrero (D-Robstown), Vice Chair Joe Moody (D-El Paso), Terry Canales (D-Edinburg), Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), and David Simpson were the members who voted for the bill to proceed out of the committee.

The two nay votes were Rep. Jeff Leach and Rep. Matt Shaheen, both are Republicans from Plano.

The bill has until next Monday to make it to the House floor. Legislative watchers say there is almost no time for it to get through the legislative process and be passed.

The law would apply to offenses on or prior to the effective date of the legislation but not to cases involving final convictions.

A House Bill reducing penalties for marijuana possession was also voted out of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee early this week. H.B. 507, filed by Joe Moody (D-El Paso) does away with current law that makes possession of less than two ounces of marijuana a Class B misdemeanor, and places in its stead a civil penalty for possession of less than once ounce of marijuana.

In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, “RAMP continues to bring the simple message to Republican offices that $250 million dollars per year and an estimated 50,000 criminal convictions do not produce the desired outcome of lower rates of marijuana use,” said John Baucom of RAMP. “Marijuana is not a minor issue. It is a major expenditure, and the policy is not working.”

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2


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