shaun mcalister

Texas: House Committee Takes Up 3 Bills On Marijuana Reform

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Three bills taking different approaches to reforming marijuana laws in Texas got a hearing before the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence last week.

Supporters packed the only committee hearing scheduled on the bills in either chamber, reports Stanton Brashier at the Dallas Observer. Other hearings this session are seen as unlikely.

The first two bills, HB 325 and HB 414, would reduce possession about about nine grams of marijuana -- 0.35 ounces -- to a class C misdemeanor from its current status as a class B misdemeanor. They'd also drop possession of two ounces to a class B misdemeanor and under four ounces to a class A misdemeanor. These bills are backed by Reps. Harold Dutton Jr., and Gene Wu, respectively, both of Houston.

HB 507, from Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso, would reduce penalties for possession of less than an ounce of cannabis to a $100 fine and no jail time. "As a lawmaker, I have a responsibility to make sure we're spending our resources wisely and treating our people fairly," Moody said. "That's what HB 507 is about."

HB 2165, from Rep. David Simpson of Tyler, would effectively legalize marijuana with little regulation, "like tomatoes or jalapenos." Shaun McAlister, director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said this one could be a stepping stone to more reform.

Texas: CBD Is Not Enough -- Legislators Introduce Real Medical Marijuana Bill

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

There are encouraging signs of actual marijuana law reform in Texas this week. One of the happiest indicators is that the introduction of limited "CBD-only" cannabis oil bills doesn't necessarily keep better medical marijuana legislation from being introduced.

You see, soon after state Sen. Kevin Eltile and state Rep. Stephanie Klick -- both Republicans -- introduced their plan to make a very limited subset of CBD oil available to an even smaller subset of patients who would benefit, the push-back started, reports Stephen Young at the Dallas Observer.

The law was misguided, said Shaun McAlister, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (DFW NORML). McAlister pointed out that it failed to account for the complexity that makes cannabis an effective treatment for so many conditions.

Dean Bortell, the father of 9-year-old Alexis Bortell, who has intractable epilepsy, said the bill didn't go far enough, despite it being specifically targeted at his daughter's condition. The Bortells now live in Colorado after leaving Texas to find an effective cannabis-based treatment for Alexis, but they continue to fight for medical marijuana reform in the Lone Star State.

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