House Bill 1937
State Rep. Jessica Gonzáles (D-Dallas) filed House Bill 1937, giving counties and municipalities legislative control over recreational use of cannabis.
Filed on February 6th, 2023, the bill further goes on to state Texans ages 21+ may posses and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. In addition imposing a 10% tax on all cannabis products. Which would go to cannabis regulation, cannabis testing and quality control, government oversight and to school funds.
“Twenty-one states in America have legalized cannabis, and twenty-seven states have decriminalized the use of cannabis. In a recent study, a majority of Texans supported some form of legalization of cannabis use,” stated Gonzáles. “While Texas has made progress with the Compassionate Use Act, we have been left behind on a potential revenue source that would increase investments in public education, stop unnecessary arrests for cannabis possession, and create jobs in our state.”
Gonzáles is right, a majority of the state are in indeed favor of some form of marijuana legalization. Within the past election, five Texas cities have voted to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession. Voters in Denton, San Marcos, Killeen, Elgin, and Harker Heights followed Austin’s lead in cannabis law reformations. Together with new rules blocking cities from funding THC concentration tests, and removing marijuana smell as a probable cause for search and seizure in most cases.
In addition, 32% of all Texas voters believe possession of small amounts of marijuana for any purpose should be legal. Followed by 23% of voters believing possession of any amount for any purpose should be legal. 28% believe cannabis should remain reserved for medicinal use. And 17% stand by keeping marijuana illegal.
State of Affairs
Since 2019, cannabis legislation within Texas has been akin to mental gymnastics. Lawmakers still struggle to this day with clear-cut policies on marijuana derivatives alone, such as hemp and Delta-8.
For instance, Texas law clearly states that the possession and use of marijuana is illegal — and has been since 1931. Hemp became legal in Texas by House Bill 1325, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2019. Lawfully, hemp is not considered marijuana due to its low THC concentration (≤0.03%). Tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC, is the major psychoactive component of cannabis. Meaning it is responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana use.
Herein is where the true issue of cannabis laws lie. Prosecutors and law enforcement agencies are now required to test for THC in low level marijuana cases. However, public testing labs are ill-equipped to quantify THC concentration, or lack testing methods whatsoever. Thereby leading to pot prosecutions to drop by the numbers, or thrown in judicial limbo.
Overall, the political climate in Texas regarding marijuana is seeing a gradual shift. Does that mean House Bill 1937 has a chance? Rep. Gonzáles filed a similar bill in 2021, but it did not go up for vote. But with more and more counties and cities joining decimalization, advocates see a possible future where things may be different.