AUSTIN, Texas (Aug. 7, 2017) – A bill introduced in the Texas House would legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the state, effectively nullifying unconstitutional federal prohibition on the same.
Introduced by Rep. Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) and 12 bipartisan co-sponsors during the special session of the Texas legislature, House Bill 85 (HB85) would expand existing laws on the books pertaining solely to cannabis oil and broaden them to encompass medical marijuana in all of its forms.
Patients would be able to qualify for medical marijuana under HB85 if they suffered from “terminal cancer, multiple sclerosis, autism, or Parkinson’s disease” under the following rules:
“The allowable amount of medical cannabis for a person for whom medical use is recommended… is:
(1) not more than 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis;
(2) if applicable, a greater amount specified in accordance with department rules by a recommending physician… and included with the patient’s registration on the medical use registry…
(3) an amount of oils or products infused with medical cannabis such that the quantity of tetrahydrocannabinols and cannabidiol in the oil or product does not exceed the quantity of those substances contained in the amount of medical cannabis under [the prior subsections], as applicable.”
Dispensaries would be permitted to operate as well, provided they comply with the tax and regulatory structure established under the legislation.
Other medical marijuana measures failed earlier in the year, but cannabis reformers now have another shot during the special session that started July 18.
The Texas Marijuana Policy Project, a nonprofit devoted to cannabis reform, pushed hard to get medical marijuana on the agenda for the special session.
“It’s too important not to use every opportunity we have,” TMPP director Heather Fazio said.
Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as HB85 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.
Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains strict prohibition of cannabis. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Legalization of medical marijuana in Texas would remove a layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.
FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Texas could sweep away at least part of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Texas could join a growing number that are simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis with California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts joining them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization were passed in those states last year.
With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.
“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
HB85 will need to pass the House Public Health Committee before moving forward in the legislative process.