Texans may see marijuana legalized for medical and/or recreational use in the near future. At the very least, the possession of marijuana for personal use will most likely be decriminalized thanks to the hard work of the Marijuana Policy Project in the Lone Star State.
The three bills being drafted are:
- Civil Penalty Bill
- Medical Marijuana Bill
- Free Market or Tax and Regulate Bill
The Civil Penalty Bill decriminalizes adult possession of any amount of marijuana that is less than one ounce. Possessing the plant will still be illegal, but the bill significantly lessens the punishment to fit the “crime.” Amounts less than once ounce would only result in a civil penalty fine up to $100, rather than the possibility of jail time and harsher life repercussions associated with pot offenses, like losing a job or student aid.
The Medical Marijuana Bill would allow patients with physician recommendations, for the use of medical marijuana to treat one of the qualifying medical conditions, to possess up to two-and-one-half ounces of marijuana without legal penalty. Patients would also be permitted to cultivate their own medicine in a secure location. This bill also protects recommending physicians from punishment for recommending a patient use marijuana for medicinal purposes. This bill opens the door for medical marijuana dispensaries to cultivate and sell their product to qualifying patients with the stipulation that all products are lab tested. Caregivers for the seriously ill are also permitted under the Medical Marijuana Bill.
Under the Free Market Bill, marijuana use and possession for adults aged twenty-one years and over will be legal. It would be taxed and regulated in the same manner as alcohol. This bill allows retail marijuana shops to cultivate and sell lab tested products to anyone over the age of twenty-one, much like they do in Washington and Colorado. The bill allows for the local government to establish more specific regulations. Driving under the influence of cannabis will not be permitted under the Free Market Bill.
Heather Fazio is the Marijuana Policy Project political director in Texas. She told the Houston Press that the plan is to pre-file the three bills next month, November 2014, to get ahead of the 84th Texas Legislative Session beginning in January.
photo credit: prensa420