DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – On Friday, April 1, the US House passed a bill that would legalize marijuana across the country.
If the measure becomes law, it would mean Texans and people across the country will no longer be prosecuted under federal law for possessing, manufacturing, and distributing marijuana.
In a bipartisan vote, the House voted 220 to 204 to approve the legislation.
But before it can become law, the US Senate must also approve it, and there’s still a question as to whether that will happen.
Aside from decriminalizing marijuana on a federal level, the measure would also put in place a system so those convicted of federal marijuana laws could expunge their records.
The bill would also tax sales of cannabis products up to eight percent and then send that funding to states that enact similar legislation for substance abuse and legal aid programs among other things.
Those opposed to legalizing marijuana have said that it places too high a cost on society through increased emergency care, substance abuse, and drugged driving.
Legalization advocates, including Jax James, Executive Director of Texas NORML, called the House vote significant. “It is a historic vote. It is only the second time in more than 50 years that Congress has taken the step forward to repeal federal cannabis prohibition. ”
Texas NORML favors the responsible use of marijuana by adults.
Under Texas law, up to 1% of THC per dry weight is allowed for medical use.
THC is what makes people feel high in marijuana.
James said if the bill becomes federal law, it would make it easier to research cannabis for medical purposes. “Currently, since it’s a schedule one drug, it can be very difficult to get an approved research program and IRB done.
And you’re only allowed to use certain types of cannabis products, which are not equivalent to what we see in the market here in Texas. So de-scheduling that would allow for greater ability to research a more diverse array of products. ”
Texas, along with 36 other states and Washington DC have legalized medical marijuana in some form, while 18 states and DC have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, which now includes New Mexico, but not Texas.
David Coale, a Constitutional law attorney in Dallas said the bill would have widespread impact if approved.
“The purpose of the law is to integrate cannabis activity into the mainstream of American society. If it becomes law, it takes away most of the gray area that the cannabis industry has been in for the last several years, ”he said.
Coale said it would still be up to the state legislature of Texas to decide whether to decriminalize marijuana under state law.