AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office staff can expect to hear a lot about marijuana over the next few weeks.
Advocates for broadly legalizing marijuana in Texas for medical purposes, and for decriminalizing low-volume possession of all pot, have begun exhorting supporters to email or call the governor’s office. Their goal – which they acknowledge having only a slim chance of achieving – is to convince Abbott to add the issues to the agenda for the ongoing 30-day special session of the state Legislature, which will end by Aug. 16.
House Bill 334, filed July 26 by state Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, would make possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil, not criminal, offense. A similar bill sponsored by Moody cleared a key committee during the regular legislative session and was scheduled for a potentially historic vote by the full House, but it got caught in a logjam of bills as the session came to a close and was never taken up for consideration.
The governor sets the agendas for special legislative sessions, so Abbott’s acquiescence is the only way any of the marijuana-related bills can be taken up by state lawmakers during the current session.
“We’re trying to mobilize and call on the governor to add this to the special session,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, a national nonprofit focused on reforming marijuana laws. “It’s too important not to use every opportunity we have.”