A self-described constitutional conservative, David Simpson opposes cannabis prohibition on religious grounds. He wants the plant legalized in Texas for full recreational use.
his legalization bill, which eliminates marijuana offenses (except for sales to minors) from the Texas criminal code, cleared the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, making it theoretically possible that it will get a floor vote. The committee vote was 5 to 2, with Simpson (R-Longview) joined by one Republican, Todd Hunter (Corpus Christi), and three Democrats—Abel Herrero (Robstown), Joe Moody (El Paso), and Terry Canales (Edinburg)—in supporting the bill. Jeff Leach and Matt Shaheen, both Republicans representing the Dallas suburb of Plano, voted no.
Simpson’s bill, H.B. 2165, is the third marijuana reform measure to win committee approval this week. On Monday the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee voted 4 to 2 in favor of H.B. 507, which would make possessing up to an ounce of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine. Currently possession of two ounces or less is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and a jail sentence of up to six months. H.B. 507, introduced by Moody, presumably has a better shot than H.B. 2165. A 2013 survey by Public Policy Polling found that 60 percent of Texas voters favored decriminalizing possession of up to an ounce, while 41 percent “strongly” supported treating marijuana like alcohol. Another 17 percent “somewhat” supported that policy.
Also this week, bills aimed at legalizing medical use of low-THC, high-CBD cannabis cleared committees in the House and Senate. On Monday, by a vote of 8 to 1, the House Public Health Committee approved H.B. 892, which would create a system in which patients whose doctors recommend low-THC cannabis could obtain it from nonprofit producers licensed by the state. The Senate Health & Human Services Committee vote 8 to 1 in favor of a companion bill, S.B. 339, on Tuesday.
Texas House Council Approves Full Legalization Cannabis Bill
In a decision that surprised even legalization advocates, a Texas legislative committee approved a bill last Wednesday that would decriminalize buying and selling marijuana in the state.
While the bill has almost no chance of clearing the necessary legislative hurdles to become law in the deep-red state, it signals a surprising development in the legalization movement: shifting attitudes toward cannabis by conservatives.
“Marijuana policy reform continues to make unprecedented progress this session,” Phillip Martin of the liberal group Progress Texas tweeted just after the vote.