Proposals for expansion of medical marijuana smolder

Proposals for expansion of medical marijuana smolder

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AUSTIN — Hope for expanding medical-marijuana access and creating a civil penalty for possession of small amounts of the substance aren’t quite snuffed out in the Capitol, despite setbacks. On Wednesday, Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said she’d identified two still-viable bills to which a pair of now-defunct proposals could be grafted as amendments before lawmakers go home from the legislative session that ends May 29. The bills that gained the most traction of any marijuana-related proposals this session hit deadlines before the full House could vote on them. “It stings,” Fazio said. “Last week was really hard for all of us.” While not legalizing possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, House Bill 81 would reduce penalties for low-level possession. The offense would carry no arrest, jail time or criminal record if the bill were approved. Punishment would be a fine of up to $250. House Bill 2107, by state Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, would make the 2015 Compassionate Use Act more inclusive, adding to the number of qualifying conditions for which use is legal and lifting a cap on THC limits. The Sheriffs’ Association of Texas opposed both. “We already have a very clear medical-marijuana bill,” said Jackson County Sheriff Andy Louderback. “Marijuana is still very much a gateway drug and leads to a life of despair and destitution.” Still, given that 77 of the House’s 150 members signed on as authors or co-authors to the medical-marijuana bill, it would have almost certainly passed had it not reached the Calendars Committee an hour and a half too late to be scheduled for vote on the floor of the House. “We didn’t move the ball but in a symbolic sense that’s a huge victory,” said John Baucum, chairman of the Texas […]

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