Texas State Representative Files Bill to Grant Local Jurisdictions Authority to Legalize Adult-Use Cannabis
State Rep. Jessica González, a Democrat whose district encompasses parts of Dallas and Grand Prairie, introduced House Bill 3248 on March 8, which aims to allow counties and local municipalities to decide for themselves whether or not to adopt ordinances for adult-use cannabis.
The bill directs the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation to adopt the necessary rules to implement, administer and enforce the legislation’s health and safety framework, including licensing, regulation, testing standards and transportation, according to a press release from González. The commission would be required to establish those rules no later than July 1, 2022.
H.B. 3248 would impose a 10% tax on the sales price of cannabis products, with 60% of the revenue generated from that tax being allocated to the state’s Foundation School Fund, according to the press release. The remaining revenue would be directed as follows: 20% to participating local governments for the purpose of oversight; 10% to cannabis testing and quality control; and 10% to cannabis regulation.
“[Fifteen] states in America have legalized cannabis, and 26 total states have decriminalized the use of cannabis,” González said. “In a recent study, 54% of Texans supported the legalization of recreational cannabis use. While Texas has made progress with the Compassionate Use Act, we have been left behind on a potential revenue source that would increase investments in public education, stop the unnecessary arrests for cannabis possession and create jobs in our state. We should allow our local communities to make the best decision for themselves in regards to cannabis legalization, and H.B. 3248 would allow that for adults 21 years or older.”
The Compassionate-Use Program is the law that governs the medical use of low-THC cannabis by patients diagnosed with seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, terminal cancer and other ailments. But the program’s pitfalls, like restrictions on where companies can store their inventory, came to light during a widespread winter storm that left delivery drivers immobilized by hazardous road conditions last month.
Under H.B. 3248, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) would be required to begin licensing cannabis growers, establishments, transporters and testing facilities no later than Nov. 1, 2022. On the same day she filed that bill, González also filed H.B. 3249, which would prohibit judges from issuing a warrant for violation of terms of community supervision solely based on testing positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD) in a drug test, according to her press release.
Continuing the push for adult-use cannabis legislation in Texas, González’s proposal comes on the heels of Democratic state Sen. Roland Gutierrez’s Senate Bill 140 that was pre-filed in November 2020, which he said would create 30,000 new jobs and more than $3 billion in revenue. That bill was referred to the Senate Committee on State Affairs earlier this month.
In addition, state Rep. Joe Moody—González’s Democratic colleague in the House—filed H.B. 447 in November 2020, an adult-use bill that would allow for the possession of 2.5 ounces of cannabis, or 15 grams of concentrate. That bill was referred to the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee last month.
González’s H.B. 3248 has yet to be read and referred.