Texas Legislature to Consider MMJ Bill

Texas

Texas is one of many states that will be considering marijuana reform this coming legislative session. Earlier in December, a bill aimed at decriminalizing marijuana was introduced to the Texas legislature; and now even more waves are being made.

According to the San Antonio Current, the Texas chapter of the Marijuana Policy Project has drafted a bill which it intends on submitting to the Texas legislature by no later than March of this year. This bill is modeled after the medical marijuana programs of other states, although a majority of its regulations have been crafted from medical marijuana programs in Arizona and Nevada. The MPP has not yet announced which state legislator will sponsor the bill.

The proposed medical marijuana bill would allow medical marijuana to be recommended for patients with debilitating diseases, including cancer, HIV/AIDS and Crohn’s Disease. Prospective patients would have to submit an application, pay a fee, provide identification and obtain a doctor’s recommendation.

The bill would also establish a patient registry so law enforcement could readily identify legitimate patients. Out-of-state patients who meet certain conditions will be able to qualify for a medical card as well.

One way the proposed bill distinguishes itself from others is that it extends protection to workers that use medical marijuana during non-work hours. In other states, such as Colorado, patients can still be fired for their medical marijuana use, but some terminated employees are suing for their right to work and use marijuana.

Although a Public Policy Polling survey revealed that 58 percent of Texans support marijuana legalization, odds are that any marijuana reform bill will be met with heavy resistance from entrenched interests.

Speaking with News Radio 1200 WOAI, Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk remarked that Texas law enforcement would be opposed to marijuana reform of any kind.

“The Sheriff’s Association position is that we are going to oppose any effort to decriminalize marijuana, or legalize medical marijuana or any of the components of marijuana … . Of course, we will vigorously oppose any effort to legalize marijuana,” Kirk said. In a conservative state like Texas, the Sheriff’s Association is a political enemy you don’t want to have.

Though polls may paint a rosy picture, marijuana reform will face an uphill battle. There’s nothing more cutthroat than Texas politics; and the marijuana industry is about to wade waist deep into it. On the industry’s side is the momentum from 2014, the overwhelming sense of inevitability that hangs over legalization and the success stories from Colorado and Washington.

If a convincing case can be made, Texas marijuana might become a reality, but don’t hold your breath. In terms of investment opportunities, there are none right now, but that may change in the coming year. Even though Texas is an uncertainty, it is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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