Legislation that would reduce criminal penalties for the possession of tetrahydrocannabinol extracts, the psychoactive element of cannabis commonly used in edibles, is one step closer to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
The Texas House approved a compromise version of House Bill 2593 Sunday evening 95-44 ahead of a midnight Sunday deadline for giving final approval to legislation. It still requires approval from the Senate.
The bill, filed by Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, would amend the Texas Controlled Substances Act to lower the penalties for possession of less than two ounces of THC extracts from a felony charge to a Class B misdemeanor.
In addition to edibles, the bill applies to a variety of cannabis products that are infused with tetrahydrocannabinol concentrates, including tinctures, infused lotions and oils used in vape pens.
The reduction to a Class B misdemeanor makes the penalties of THC extracts uniform with those of marijuana possession. Whereas Texas law currently makes felony possession charges punishable by six months to two years in jail, the legislative change would make these charges punishable by up to 180 days in jail or a fine up to $2,000.
Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, previously sought to amend the House version by tacking on regulations for a cannabis compound known as Delta-8, a chemical manufactured from hemp that is similar but less potent than THC.
Moody and the House rejected the Senate’s amendment and referred the bill to a conference committee. The committee, which included Perry, removed the Delta-8 provision and unanimously approved Moody’s original version.
House Bill 2593 is one of two marijuana-related bills lawmakers that have advanced during this legislative session. The other, HB 1535, is headed for Abbott’s desk.
That bill would expand the state’s limited medical marijuana program by making cancer patients and people with post-traumatic stress disorder eligible for marijuana treatment. The bill was originally aimed at making medical marijuana available to anyone experiencing chronic pain before it was stripped down by the Texas Senate.
Both bills mark incremental gains for marijuana advocates, but the lack of broad reforms — more than a dozen marijuana-related bills were filed this session — leaves Texas behind a growing number of states that have legalized marijuana for recreational or medical use.