On Monday, Texas House lawmakers accomplished an historic first for the state. They voted to approve a partial decriminalization bill that would have reduced penalties for the possession of small quantities of cannabis. But as soon as the House sent the measure to the Senate, Lt. Gov. of Texas and Senate President Dan Patrick declared the bill dead. Patrick’s comments came on the heels of a similar statement from Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chair John Whitmire, who told reporters there wasn’t “an appetite” for marijuana reform in the upper chamber. Advocates of the decriminalization measure had already compromised on the bill to get it through the House. And in the wake of Patrick’s declaration, they’re vowing to find common ground with Senate opposition.
Watered-Down Decriminalization Bill Still Too Extreme for Texas Senators
House Bill 63 is sponsored by Texas state Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), a lawmaker who has been trying for years to ease Texas’ harsh criminalization of cannabis. This time around, Moody succeeded in getting his bill through the conservative Texas House by proposing a watered-down version of his original decriminalization bill.
Initially, Rep. Moody proposed replacing criminal penalties for minor cannabis possession entirely. House Bill 63, in