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Top Mexican Senator Says Lawmakers Will Again Take Up Marijuana Legalization In New Session

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Mexican lawmakers will again take up the issue of establishing rules for a regulated marijuana market in the new legislative session that begins on Wednesday, a top senator says.

The country’s Supreme Court first deemed the prohibition on personal consumption and cultivation of cannabis for adults unconstitutional in 2018. Since then, there’s been an ongoing effort in the Congress to legislate on the issue鈥攂ut lawmakers have repeatedly failed to meet court deadlines to end marijuana criminalization.

The court took matters into its own hands in June and invalidated prohibition, without a regulatory scheme in place. Also that month, President Andr茅s Manuel L贸pez Obrador said his administration will respect the court’s decision, and he indicated that further reforms could potentially be placed before voters on the ballot.

But Sen. Julio Ram贸n Menchaca Salazar of the MORENA party said in a new statement on Monday that cannabis legalization will ideally be taken up by the legislature in the forthcoming session after regular orders of business are addressed.

The senator noted the fact that both the Senate and Chamber of Deputies have passed legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis, but could not agree on the details before lawmakers adjourned for the last session.

鈥淭he ideal is to finish the legislative process鈥攖o be able to have, without the pressure of time, the possibility of retaking this opinion, taking the good that was done in the Chamber of Deputies, because some modifications were correct,” Menchaca, who chairs the Senate Justice Committee, said, according to a translation.

He added, however, that the Senate-passed reform initiative that was revised in the Chamber of Deputies could be further “enriched with the participation of the senators.” He also said lawmakers in the opposite chamber sent the Senate a revised bill “with inconsistencies, some of them unconstitutional.”

Despite being granted multiple Supreme Court extensions to enact a policy change, the Congress failed to get the job done by the latest April 2021 deadline鈥攄ue in large part to key differences between the proposals from the two chambers.

The resulting inaction prompted justices to hold a聽vote on a general declaration of unconstitutionality in June. A majority agreed to end criminalization, though the Ministry of Health still has some regulatory authority with respect to permitting personal cultivation.

The Senate approved a legalization bill late last year, and then the Chamber of Deputies聽made revisions and passed it in March, sending it back to the originating chamber. A couple of Senate committees then聽took up and cleared the amended measure, but leaders quickly started signaling聽that certain revisions made the proposal unworkable.

That鈥檚 where the situation stood for weeks as the court鈥檚 latest April 30 deadline approached. There was an expectation that the Senate would again ask the court for an extension, but that did not take place. Instead, lawmakers have begun floating the idea of holding a special legislative session in order to get the job done this year.

After the Chamber of Deputies approved the Senate-passed legalization bill, senators said that the revised proposal was critically internally conflicted鈥攐n provisions concerning legal possession limits, the definition of hemp and聽other聽issues鈥攁nd lawmakers themselves could be subject to criminal liability if it went into effect as drafted.

But Senate Majority Leader Ricardo Monreal Avila said in April that if the court were to make a declaration of unconstitutionality before a measure to regulate cannabis was approved, it would result in 鈥渃haos.鈥

Sen. Eduardo Ram铆rez Aguilar of the ruling MORENA party said in April that 鈥渁t this time,聽it is important to legislate in the terms that are presented to us鈥 and then consider additional revisions to cannabis laws through subsequent bills.

That鈥檚 been the position many legalization advocates have taken as well, urging lawmakers to pass an imperfect bill immediately and then work on fixing it later.

Under the prior proposal, adults 18 and older would be allowed to purchase and possess up to 28 grams of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. The deputies made changes that principally concern the regulatory structure, rules for the commercial market and licensing policies.

One of the most notable changes made by the Chamber of Deputies was that the revised bill would not establish a new independent regulatory body to oversee the licensing and implementation of the program as was approved by the Senate. Instead, it would give that authority to an existing agency, the National Commission Against Addictions.

Deputies also approved additional revisions to increase penalties for unauthorized possession of large amounts of cannabis, prevent forest land from being converted to marijuana growing areas and to require regulators to 鈥渃oordinate campaigns against problematic cannabis use and鈥evelop permanent actions to deter and prevent its use by minors and vulnerable groups.鈥

Advocates had hoped for more. Throughout this legislative process, they鈥檝e called for changes to further promote social equity and eliminate strict penalties for violating the law.

While the bill would give priority for licenses to marginalized communities, advocates are worried that there might not be strict and specific enough criteria to actually ensure that ends up being the case. They also pushed for an amendment to make it so a specific percentage of licenses would be set aside for those communities, but that did not happen.

Monreal Avila, the Senate majority leader, said ahead of the Chamber of Deputies vote that there 鈥渋s no problem if they modify the cannabis law, we have no problem.鈥

The president, for his part, said in December that a vote on legalization legislation was聽delayed due to minor 鈥渕istakes鈥 in the proposal.

The legalization bill聽cleared a joint group of Senate committees聽prior to the full floor vote in that chamber last year, with some amendments being made after members informally聽considered and debated the proposal聽during a virtual hearing.

Members of the Senate鈥檚 Justice, Health, and Legislative Studies Committees had聽approved a prior version of legal cannabis legislation last year as well, but the pandemic delayed consideration of the issue. Salazar of the MORENA party said in April that legalizing cannabis could fill treasury coffers at a time when the economy is recovering from the health crisis.

As lawmakers work to advance the reform legislation, there鈥檚 been a more lighthearted push to focus attention on the issue by certain members and activists. That push has mostly involved planting and gifting marijuana.

In September, a top administration official was聽gifted a cannabis plant by senator聽on the Senate floor, and she said she鈥檇 be making it a part of her personal garden.

A different lawmaker聽gave the same official, Interior Ministry Secretary Olga S谩nchez Cordero, a marijuana joint聽on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies in 2019.

Cannabis made another appearance in the legislature in August, when Sen. Jesusa Rodr铆guez of the MORENA party聽decorated her desk with a marijuana plant.

Drug policy reform advocates have also been cultivating hundreds of marijuana plants in front of the Senate, putting pressure on legislators to make good on their pledge to advance legalization.

Court Dismisses DEA Marijuana Rescheduling Case, But Judge Says Cannabis Reclassification May Be Coming Anyway

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

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Psychedelics Group Issues First Round Of Grants For Community-Based Entheogenic Education In DC

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A Washington, D.C.-based psychedelics organization has issued about $50,000 in its first round of grants for various community groups to support efforts to educate and organize people around plant medicine.

The Plant Medicine Coalition (PMC)鈥founded by the head of the D.C. campaign that got psychedelics decriminalization passed locally in last November鈥檚 election鈥攄olled out grants to about a dozen groups as part of its Community Grants Program. Funding for the grants was provided by Dr. Bronner’s, a wellness company that’s been involved in a number of marijuana and psychedelics reform efforts across the country.

This is just one part of PMC’s mission to promote psychedelics reform as the movement continues to spread at the local, state and federal levels.

Arts collectives, mental health organizations and entheogenic education groups are among the new grant recipients.

Melissa Lavasani,聽PMC co-founder, told Marijuana Moment that the organization is hopeful about the impact of these grants鈥攂ut it’s also using this opportunity to explore how to most effectively provide funding in the years to come.

“I wanted to do something really impactful that had a quick turnaround,” Lavasani said. “There are a lot of things that our organization is working on right now that are really long term, especially on the federal level.”

“We’re trying to shift a really entrenched culture and government,” she added. “It just takes a lot of grinding鈥攎eeting after meeting鈥攁nd I wanted to do something important with these funds here locally because I do feel like there were a lot of loose ends” after D.C. decriminalized psychedelics.

Overall, the money from PMC will support a diversity of initiatives. There will be workshops on community building within the psychedelics movement, courses on cultivating entheogenic substances, lecture series on scientific developments related to the substances and more.

Here are some quotes from recipients on what they aim to do with the funding:聽

The Madison House: “Founded by Master Life Coach H. Alejaibra Badu, The Madison House is a International Spiritual Health & Wellness Movement that stands to heal people from things that bind them mentally and emotionally. Finding freedom from the self-inflicted prison of the mind when it’s over consumed by thought. Freeing yourself from the voice inside your mind that promotes fear, self-doubt, low self-esteem, anxiety, stress, anger, and pain. Freeing yourself from the perceptions of others that leave you in bondage. Freeing your whole self and authentic being. The Madison House belief is that if you are able to be freed from the things that bind you mentally and emotionally, then you can live your life on purpose.”

Delicious Mushroom Growing: “Delicious Mushroom Growing is a project that educates DC residents about how to grow mushrooms from manure and compost substrates – Oyster, Cremini/Portabello/Button/Agaricus, and Shaggy Mane. It’s a way to teach people about how to grow fungi medicine and get themselves on a the path towards healing.”

Plant Medicine Lecture Series: “This lecture series will bring exciting speakers to D.C. to discuss the scientific, medical, and social aspects of psychedelics. The lectures will be offered in public venues, COVID permitting, and webcast as well. The events will also be excellent opportunities to meet other people in D.C. who are interested in psychedelics.”

There are additional recipients who requested not to be publicly listed but are providing “critical education of the community, integration services, as well as providing stewardship of ethical plant medicine community building,” Lavasani said.

Others are involved in “addressing abuse and predatory behaviors in plant medicine circles (a problem that鈥檚 become super prevalent lately) to provide a restorative process for healing,” she said.

While based in D.C., PMC is a national organization that hopes to build upon reform efforts that have already been accomplished and bring the issue to Capitol Hill, in part by pushing lawmakers to approve federal funding for research into the therapeutic potential of substances like psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca.

The group is also working to ensure the effective implementation of the city-level policy change while supporting other local activists as they push to change laws governing natural or synthetic psychedelics.

Both inside and outside of the nation’s capitol, activists are hard at work pushing for psychedelics reform.

Just last week, for example, lawmakers in a fourth Massachusetts city voted in favor of a resolution聽urging the decriminalization of certain entheogenic substances and other drugs.

The action comes months after the neighboring Northampton City Council passed a resolution聽stipulating that no government or police funds should be used to enforce laws criminalizing people for using or possessing entheogenic plants and fungi. Elsewhere in Massachusetts,聽Somerville聽and聽Cambridge聽have also moved to effectively decriminalize psychedelics.

The local measures also express support for two bills introduced in the Massachusetts state legislature聽this year. One would remove criminal penalties for possession of all currently illicit drugs and the other would establish a task force to study entheogenic substances with the eventual goal of legalizing and regulating the them.

Separately, Seattle鈥檚 City Council approved a resolution earlier this month to decriminalize noncommercial activity around a wide range of psychedelic substances, including the cultivation and sharing of psilocybin mushrooms, ayahuasca, ibogaine and non-peyote-derived mescaline.

In Michigan, the Grand Rapids City Council approved a resolution last month聽calling for decriminalization of a wide range of psychedelics.

Elsewhere in Michigan, the Ann Arbor City Council has already elected to make enforcement of laws prohibition psychedelics like psilocybin, ayahuasca and DMT聽among the city鈥檚 lowest priorities鈥攁nd lawmakers recently followed up by declaring September聽Entheogenic Plants and Fungi Awareness Month.

After Ann Arbor legislators passed that decriminalization resolution last year, the Washtenaw County prosecutor announced聽that his office will not be pursuing charges聽over possessing entheogenic plants and fungi, 鈥渞egardless of the amount at issue.鈥

A local proposal to decriminalize various psychedelics聽will also appear on Detroit鈥檚 November ballot.

At the same time that local activists are pursuing decriminalization, a pair of Michigan senators introduced a bill last month to聽legalize the possession, cultivation and delivery聽of an array of plant- and fungi-derived psychedelics like psilocybin and mescaline.


Marijuana Moment is already tracking more than 1,200 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

A bill to legalize psychedelics in California advanced through the Senate and two Assembly committees this year before being pulled by the sponsor to聽buy more time to generate support among lawmakers. The plan is to take up the reform during next year鈥檚 second half of the legislative session, and the senator behind the measure聽says he鈥檚 confident it will pass.

California activists were separately cleared to begin collecting signatures for a聽historic initiative to legalize psilocybin mushrooms聽in the state.聽Oakland聽and聽Santa Cruz聽have already enacted psychedelics decriminalization.

The top Democrat in the Florida Senate filed a bill last month that would require the state to聽research the medical benefits of psychedelics聽such as psilocybin and MDMA.

Earlier this year, Texas enacted a law directing state officials to聽study psychedelics鈥 medical value.

The governor of Connecticut signed a bill in June that includes language requiring the state to carry out聽a study into the therapeutic potential of psilocybin mushrooms.

Oregon voters passed a pair of initiatives last November to聽legalize psilocybin therapy聽and聽decriminalize possession of all drugs. On the local level, activists in聽Portland are mounting聽a push to have local lawmakers pass a resolution聽decriminalizing the cultivation, gifting and ceremonial use of a wide range of psychedelics.

A New York lawmaker introduced a bill in June that would require the state to establish an institute to similarly聽research the medical value of psychedelics.

The Maine House of Representatives聽passed a drug decriminalization bill聽this year, but it later聽died in the Senate.

In Oakland, the first city where a city council voted to broadly deprioritize criminalization of entheogenic substances, lawmakers聽approved a follow-up resolution聽in December that calls for the policy change to be adopted statewide and for local jurisdictions to be allowed to permit healing ceremonies where people could use psychedelics. Activists in the city are also hoping to expand upon the local decriminalization ordinance by creating a community-based model through which聽people could legally purchase entheogenic substances聽from local producers.

Meanwhile, Denver activists who successfully led the 2019 campaign to make the city聽the first in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin possession聽have聽set their eyes on broader reform, with plans in the works to end the criminalization of noncommercial gifting and communal use of the psychedelic.

In a setback for advocates, the U.S. House of Representatives recently voted against a proposal from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) that聽would have removed a spending bill rider聽that advocates say has restricted federal funds for research into Schedule I drugs, including psychedelics such as psilocybin, MDMA and ibogaine. However, it picked up considerably more votes this round than聽when the congresswoman first introduced it聽in 2019.

Report provisions of separate, House-passed spending legislation also touch on the need to聽expand cannabis and psychedelics research. The panel urged NIDA to support expanded marijuana studies, for example. It further says that federal health agencies should聽pursue research into the therapeutic potential of psychedelics聽for military veterans suffering from a host of mental health conditions.

There was an attempt by a Republican congressman to attach language into a defense spending bill that would promote research into psychedelics therapy for active duty military members,聽but it was not made in order聽in the House Rules Committee last month.

NIDA also recently announced it鈥檚 funding a study into聽whether psilocybin can help people quit smoking cigarettes.

An official with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also said at a recent congressional hearing that the agency is 鈥渧ery closely鈥 following research into the聽potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelics聽like MDMA for military veterans.

For what it鈥檚 worth, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a longstanding champion of marijuana reform in Congress, said this month that he intends to聽help bring the psychedelics reform movement to Capitol Hill聽鈥渢his year.鈥

In May, lawmakers in Congress filed the聽first-ever legislation to federally decriminalize possession聽of illicit substances.

Top Federal Drug Agency Tells Congress About Marijuana Research Barriers Caused By Restrictive Scheduling

Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

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Feds Must Legalize Marijuana, Top Nevada Lawmaker Says (Op-Ed)

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“In Nevada, we鈥檝e shown that it is possible to create an equitable and business friendly framework that benefits both cannabis business owners and consumers. With federal action, we can take this work to the next level.”

By Rep. Steve Yeager for Nevada Current

With gridlock at the federal level, states have truly become the laboratories of democracy鈥攐ften leading on legislative policy when Congress is unable. When it comes to cannabis, these laboratories of democracy operate at breakneck speed, with 18 U.S. states legalizing it for both medical and adult 鈥渞ecreational鈥 use and at least some legal use in 37 states and the District of Columbia. In a nation where even a small amount of the substance could and often did (and sometimes still does) lead to serious legal consequences, more than 100 million Americans now live in states with legalized, adult-use cannabis markets.

Nevada, of course, has been a trailblazer in legalizing cannabis and as a result, has reaped significant economic and social benefits. When the Legislature established the Cannabis Compliance Board in 2019 with a strong bipartisan majority, Nevada solidified its place as the gold standard for a well-regulated cannabis industry.

In 2021, the Legislature once again demonstrated its ability to create a more equitable and inclusive cannabis industry, securing a bipartisan 2/3 vote in each legislative chamber to pass a bill establishing cannabis consumption lounges. The lounges, set to open in 2022, will bring new jobs and enhanced tax revenue that will allow Nevada to invest more in K-12 education. In addition, Nevada鈥檚 tens of millions of tourists will finally have a place to legally consume cannabis. It is clear that Las Vegas is quickly becoming a global cannabis destination.

But despite these immense possibilities, state legalization鈥攚ithout change in federal law鈥攕till presents serious challenges. For instance, the lack of contemporary cannabis legislation on the federal level has made any form of traditional banking for the industry next to impossible. Cannabis business owners cannot take advantage of favorable tax provisions that help other businesses keep more of the money they make, often leading to additional investment. Even if cannabis is legal in a particular state, carrying that cannabis on to federal property or on to an airplane opens a person to arrest and prosecution by federal authorities.

Furthermore, federal employees or state employees paid through federal funding cannot partake in cannabis, medical or otherwise. Nevadans who live in federally subsidized housing cannot consume in the comfort of their homes, a prohibition that undoubtedly disproportionately impacts vulnerable communities. And business owners in the industry can never feel completely comfortable because the federal government could choose to use its police power to crack down on state level cannabis businesses.

With polls showing that two-thirds of Americans support legalization of cannabis, it is time for the federal government to legalize it. Such action will pave the way for states that have been hesitant to step out on this issue and will eliminate the current conflicts between federal and state law. Federal legalization will enable more in-depth study of cannabis by both state and federal agencies to develop a scientific standard of impairment for driving and will enable the federal government to help states with efforts to curb youth cannabis use.

Nevada has also led the way in pardoning and sealing criminal records for those convicted of low-level cannabis crimes. Those with federal cannabis convictions have no similar remedy, often preventing them from entering the job market at a time when employees have never been in higher demand. Federal cannabis legalization would open the door to cleaning the slate for criminal convictions stemming from conduct the majority of Americans now agree should not have been illegal in the first place. For both moral and economic reasons, erasing records of low level cannabis convictions is simply the right thing to do. For that to happen, cannabis must be legalized on the federal level.

In Nevada, we鈥檝e shown that it is possible to create an equitable and business friendly framework that benefits both cannabis business owners and consumers. With federal action, we can take this work to the next level.

Steve Yeager is a Democratic state assemblyman representing District 9 in Clark County, and speaker pro tempore of the Nevada State Assembly.

This op-ed was first published by Nevada Current.

Top Federal Drug Agency Tells Congress About Marijuana Research Barriers Caused By Restrictive Scheduling

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Texas Judge Upholds Delta-8 THC Ban In Initial Ruling, But The Fight Isn’t Over

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A Texas judge has ruled that the state’s ban on hemp products containing more than 0.3 percent delta-8 THC can remain in effect as a legal challenge moves through the process.

The cannabis company Hometown Hero filed a suit against the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) last week, arguing that it improperly revised its hemp policy this month to specifically prohibit products with more than trace amounts of forms of THC other than delta-9, the most commonly known psychoactive compound in cannabis.

In a ruling dated Friday and announced on Monday, the court decided against the plaintiffs’ request to have a temporary restraining order imposed on the state. Subsequently, the hemp business said it will halt sales of certain products as it prepares for a November 5 hearing on a more consequential temporary injunction against the state.

These are just the first steps in yet another legal battle over hemp in the state following the plant’s legalization.

Delta-8 THC has surged in popularity, particularly in states with more restrictive marijuana laws. It produces intoxicating effects similar to delta-9 THC, but it can be synthetically produced by converting CBD derived from hemp. The novelty of delta-8 products has left legal loopholes, which is likely why DSHS moved to broadly prohibit products with more than 0.3 percent of any type of THC.

DSHS appears to have responded to this increased market demand and questions from hemp businesses by updating its policy with the broader interpretation of THC. Here’s what the department’s site now says:

“Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 443 (HSC 443), established by House Bill 1325 (86th Legislature), allows Consumable Hemp Products in Texas that do not exceed 0.3% Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). All other forms of THC, including Delta-8 in any concentration and Delta-9 exceeding 0.3%, are considered Schedule I controlled substances.”

Hometown Hero had hoped to get a temporary restraining order against DSHS to prevent it from taking action against hemp businesses that sell delta-8 THC, but now it must wait to see what comes out of next month’s follow-up hearing.

“The DSHS stance flips the hemp definition on its head,” an attorney for the plaintiffs said in court on Friday, according to Texas Cannabis Collective.

The department, for its part, says it has not made any policy change and that delta-8 THC has been statutorily classified the same as delta-9 since hemp was legalized in 2019. A spokesperson said it simply “posted the clarification below on our website in response to recent requests from hemp growers who said that there was confusion in the industry about what was allowed in consumable hemp products.”

Activists have criticized DSHS for making hemp policy decisions without affording the public a real chance to participate.

“We expect the Department of State Health Services to always operate with full transparency,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told Marijuana Moment. “It has been made abundantly clear that, by posting meeting notices in obscure locations, DSHS denied the public an opportunity to weigh in on proposed changes to the Controlled Substances Act.”

At the federal level, delta-8 THC has also captured the attention of agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regulators at those departments recently issued warnings about products containing the cannabinoid, saying they’ve seen a significant uptick in reported adverse health effects.

FDA also announced a plan this month to us 鈥渘ovel鈥 data sources like Reddit to gain a better understanding of public health issues surrounding use of delta-8 THC and other cannabinoids such as CBD.

Back in Texas, the hemp industry has become familiarized with the court system as businesses have navigated the new law.

In the same district court where this new delta-8 THC lawsuit has been filed, a judge ruled in August that Texas鈥檚 ban on the production and sale of smokable hemp products is unconstitutional.

Judge Lora Livingston ruled in favor of plaintiffs鈥攁 group of hemp businesses who sued the DSHS over a ban on the manufacturing and selling of smokable cannabis products it imposed after the crop was legalized.

An appeals court had previously modified a prior injunction and determined that regulators couldn鈥檛 enforce a ban on the sales component of the smokable hemp market. But following the August ruling, there鈥檚 a permanent injunction that bars the state from prohibiting the full range of hemp activity.

Meanwhile, Texas activists are working to enact local reforms on marijuana.

Advocates in San Marcos, Texas recently launched a campaign to put marijuana decriminalization on the local ballot in 2022.

Just to the north of San Marcos, a separate campaign attempted to聽put cannabis decriminalization on Austin鈥檚 ballot this November, but activists have since shifted their strategy toward putting the measure in front of voters on the May 2022 ballot. They will also target additional cities next November.

There is no statewide, citizen-led initiative process that would enable advocates to put an issue like decriminalization or legalization on the Texas ballot. But at the local level, there are limited cases where activists can leverage home rule laws that allow for policy changes.

A strong majority of Texans back even broader reform, according to recent polling. Sixty percent of voters in the state聽support making cannabis legal 鈥渇or any use,鈥聽signaling that local initiatives for more modest proposals like decriminalization will likely prevail where they qualify for local ballots.

This year鈥檚 legislative session in Texas saw numerous drug policy proposals advance, with bills to聽expand the state鈥檚 medical cannabis program聽and require a study into聽the therapeutic potential of certain psychedelics聽for military veterans having been enacted.

Advocates remain disappointed, however, that lawmakers were聽unable to pass more expansive cannabis bills鈥攊ncluding a decriminalization proposal that cleared the House but saw no action in the Senate.

The聽House approved a cannabis decriminalization bill聽in 2019,聽but it did not advance聽in the Senate that session.

Top Federal Drug Agency Tells Congress About Marijuana Research Barriers Caused By Restrictive Scheduling

Photo courtesy of Brendan Cleak.

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