Texas Lawmakers Pre-File Marijuana Bills For 2021 Session

On the heels of five U.S. states voting to legalize marijuana in some form last week, lawmakers in Texas are getting a head start introducing a number of cannabis-related bills for next year, including several that would legalize it for adult use.

The legalization proposals are among at least 13 pieces of marijuana legislation pre-filed by lawmakers on Monday and Tuesday for the 2021 legislative session, which begins in January. Other bills would legalize high-THC cannabis for medical use, decriminalize small amounts of marijuana and put legalization before state voters on the ballot. Another would shield consumers from existing criminal laws for marijuana possession if they reasonably expected a product to be legal hemp.

Many of the bills would usher in big changes for Texas, which currently allows only certain forms of low-THC medical marijuana to treat specific conditions, but the legalization measure is by far the most sweeping. Sponsored by state Sen.-elect Roland Gutierrez (D), SB 140 would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older and establish a commercial cannabis industry in the state.

Much of the incoming senator’s argument so far for the bill is financial. Gutierrez, currently a member of the state House of Representatives, said Monday that the measure could eventually bring a $3.6 billion boost to the state economy.

A report last month published by the law firm Vicente Sederberg LLP estimated that marijuana legalization in Texas could produce more than $1.1 billion in state tax revenue plus millions more in licensing and other fees. The state is estimated to face a $4.6 billion deficit when the Legislature convenes next year, the state comptroller said in July.

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