AUSTIN, Texas – Next Tuesday, state lawmakers will officially begin the business of crafting a new budget and addressing the coronavirus pandemic as the 87th legislative session kicks off. But some lawmakers also think this might be the session to expand marijuana programs in the state.
Bills addressing decriminalization and increasing who can use it for medical purposes are on the table. Then there's the push for full-on legalization, and at least one lawmaker says it could be key to addressing the nearly $5 billion hole in the state budget.
"This is no longer an experiment. Multiple states have engaged in this. They've figured out where some of the road bumps are so Texas can learn from some of their experiences," said. Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso.
Moody is sponsoring HB 447, which would legalize the possession of cannabis for people over the age of 21 in amounts of up to 2.5 ounces, or 15 grams of concentrate. His bill would allow people to own as many as a dozen marijuana plants and implement the regulation and taxation of recreational marijuana use. A similar bill has been filed in the Senate by Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio.
"The bill as introduced uses revenues, some to local city and county government, but also the lion's share goes to the Texas Retirement System and into a fund to go toward teacher pay raises," Moody said.
While there has been movement on the legalization of hemp and marijuana for medical use, opposition is already lining up to oppose these latest pieces of legislation.