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Texas Senate Kills Cannabis Reform Bills Despite Overwhelming Bipartisan Backing

Efforts to reduce marijuana penalties and increase medical marijuana availability in Texas have hit a roadblock in the Senate. Despite growing support and calls for reform, two bills aimed at decriminalizing marijuana and expanding access to medical marijuana have been rejected without even being discussed on the Senate floor. The decision leaves tens of thousands of Texans without access to potentially life-saving medicine and perpetuates outdated and harmful drug policies.

Following a united effort by both Democrats and Republicans back in March, Texas lawmakers successfully passed a bill through committee and the House of Representatives that aimed to decriminalize marijuana in the state. If the law would have passed, it would have eliminated the risk of arrest and jail time for those with low-level possession of cannabis and would allow them to clear their criminal records of cannabis-related offenses.

The Texas House also voted in favor of a bill that expands the existing medical marijuana program to include more qualifying patients. Currently, the Texas Compassionate Use Program permits doctors to prescribe low-THC marijuana products to patients with specific medical conditions, including cancer and epilepsy. However, the new Republican-authored bill would add chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions, providing an alternative to opioids for thousands of residents in need.

Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the crucial gatekeeper for the Senate's legislative agenda, has decided to shelve two much-anticipated reform bills until next year's session. Despite mounting pressure from advocates on both sides, these measures won't be tackled in the Senate until then.

The recent rejection of two key marijuana reform bills in the Texas Senate marks a setback for efforts to reduce penalties and expand access to medical marijuana in the state. Despite bipartisan support and calls for change, these bills were denied the opportunity for discussion on the Senate floor, leaving many Texans without access to potentially life-saving medicine and perpetuating outdated drug policies.

The approved bill for decriminalization could have provided relief for individuals facing low-level possession charges, allowing them to avoid arrest and clear their records. Additionally, the expansion of the medical marijuana program would have offered a viable alternative to opioids for those suffering from chronic pain.

However, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's decision to postpone these bills until the next legislative session has left advocates disappointed and the issue unresolved.

The road to meaningful marijuana reform in Texas continues to face obstacles, highlighting the need for continued advocacy and awareness surrounding the potential benefits of marijuana decriminalization and expanded medical access.

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