Texas expansion of medical cannabis nears finish line after Senate approval

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The 86th Legislature runs from Jan. 8 to May 27. From the state budget to health care to education policy — and the politics behind it all — we focus on what Texans need to know about the biennial legislative session.

Marijuana advocates were handed an unlikely victory Wednesday after the Texas Senate advanced a bill greatly expanding the list of debilitating medical conditions that can legally be treated by cannabis oil in the state.

Although the upper chamber’s leadership once opposed bills that would relax the state’s pot policies, the Senate unanimously voted in favor of a bill by state Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, that expands the state’s Compassionate Use Program, which currently allows the sale of cannabis oil only to people with intractable epilepsy who meet certain requirements.

The bill now heads back to the Texas House, where lawmakers can either approve the Senate changes or opt to iron out their differences in a conference committee before lawmakers adjourn in five days. Klick did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether she’d accept the Senate changes to her bill.

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Here’s Every State That Has Legalized Marijuana

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In the mid-1600s, hemp was a cash crop for European settlers who had recently arrived in what would become the United States. It remained an integral part of the colonies’, and later independent country’s economy for centuries, until the early 1900s, when Americans started to change their attitude toward cannabis.

The budding marijuana movement of the present day has overcome enormous obstacles in its long, winding attempt to end cannabis prohibition, from the fear that was ingrained into society by Harry Anslinger, the infamous 1936 drama “Reefer Madness,” and the war on drugs initiated by the Nixon administration in the 1970s.

Cannabis legalization hasn’t spread across the U.S. in a linear fashion, though. Aside from a few exceptions, notably Colorado, medical marijuana legislation took root on the West Coast, followed soon after by the Northeast.

Prohibition received its first series of blows when California, Oregon, and Washington legalized medical cannabis during the 1990s. Voters in these three Pacific Coast states were also among the first to legalize recreational cannabis, starting with Washington. Then, as if the enthusiasm behind weed legalization decided to board an airplane and fly east,  the next wave of legalization began in the Northeast, with a layover in Colorado.

Gradually, cannabis prohibition has been withering, now that 10 states have legalized adult-use cannabis, also known as recreational use, and a total of 33 have medical marijuana legislation in place. Some states without any form of legal cannabis are starting to allow medical use of cannabidiol (CBD) products with low amounts of THC.

The federal government also is starting to embrace the plant that was a vital part of the U.S. economy. The 2018 Farm Bill, signed Dec. 20, 2018, removed hemp‘s status as a controlled substance and legalized industrial hemp production.

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S.420 Bill For Dummies

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A new bill introduced in the Senate would legalize marijuana, and it’s not just the text of the bill that’s a nod to marijuana culture. The bill, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), is labeled with a conspicuous number: S.420.

See the full version of the bill – CLICK HERE

The new bill would give the Drug Enforcement Administration 60 days to remove the drug from its list of controlled substances, while also barring the sale of marijuana in states where it’s still illegal. S.420 would also require merchants to add an excise tax to marijuana, an indirect tax that’s added to the price of the product, similar to how tobacco and alcohol are taxed.

The bill would also require businesses to register for special permits to start selling weed. Cannabis products would also face labeling and advertising requirements similar to those required for alcohol.

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The latest prospects for marijuana reform in Texas: Both major parties pushing for changes at Capitol

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Lawmakers have filed 13 bills related to marijuana policy so far this session, with Gov. Greg Abbott signaling he is on board with reducing penalties for possession of small amounts of pot.

Many states have approved the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. To date, the only major piece of legislation in Texas is the use of low-THC oil for children suffering from intractable epilepsy.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has approved 40 doctors from three clinics for the prescription of low-THC cannabis. The three companies providing low-THC cannabis in Texas are Cansortium Texas, based in Schulenberg; Compassionate Cultivation in Manchaca, just south of Austin; and Surterra Wellness in Austin.

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A Newly Proposed Bill, H.R. 420, is Looking to Legalize Marijuana at The Federal Level

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A new bill is proposing marijuana be legalized at the federal level, according to a report by the Marijuana Moment.

H.R. 420, also known as the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,” suggests the federal government treat marijuana like alcohol rather than a controlled substance, which is its current classification under the Controlled Substances Act.

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Marijuana Legalization 2018 Midterms: Which States Will Allow Legal Weed Next?

As voters countrywide head to the polls on Tuesday for the heated midterm elections, a handful of states will also be deciding whether to pass marijuana legislation that would legalize the drug for medicinal or recreational use.

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Canada to Pardon Pot Possession as it Legalizes Marijuana

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The Canadian government is ready to pardon those with a pot possession record of 30 grams or less after Canada becomes the second and largest country with a legal national marijuana marketplace Wednesday.

A senior government official said those with a record will be allowed to apply for a pardon. The official was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of Wednesday’s announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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