Take a dive into politics and learn how much further a medical marijuana expansion bill is from becoming law.

House Bill 1535 has been moving quickly through the hands of Texas legislators and originally proposed to change the definition of low THC cannabis from .5 percent by weight of tetrahydrocannabinols to 5 percent. HB 1535 was filed on March 8, 2021 by Rep. Stephanie Klick and also seeks to expand medial marijuana qualifying conditions for patients.

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Initially, HB 1535 would qualify those affected by acute or chronic pain, and asked that only veterans with PTSD also qualify. The Senate reviewed the bill and approved HB 1535, but with a few amendments. The changes include the removal of qualifications for those with acute or chronic pain, but offers anyone with PTSD the chance to qualify, instead of just veterans. The most disheartening change is that the Senate disagrees with the definition of low THC cannabis raising to 5 percent. The Senate proposed the definition of low THC cannabis instead increase only .5 percent to 1 percent by weight of tetrahydrocannabinols.

Now, according to the Texas legislative process, the House will review the amended bill and if the House "concurs with the changes, the bill is enrolled, signed by both presiding officers in the presence of their respective chambers, and sent to the governor."

One other crucial bill is HB 2593, which would reduce the penalty for possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis concentrate from a felony charge to a class B misdemeanor. Texas has not reduced the penalties for possession of cannabis since 1973 with HB 447.  Once again, if the House passes the amendments made by Senate, then it could be heading to Governor Abbott's desk. The current legislative session is set to end May 31, so time is of the essence.

While these changes and these bills may seem small to some, they could potentially have a huge effect on the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in Texas.

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