The Texas Senate has approved House-passed bills to reduce criminal penalties for possessing marijuana concentrates and require the state to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA. But because senators amended both pieces of legislation, they must first head back to their originating chamber before they can be sent to the governor’s desk.
Meanwhile, advocates are closely monitoring a separate bill to expand the state’s medical cannabis program, which cleared the House and was referred to a Senate committee on Thursday. But the fate of that proposal remains murky as a legislative deadline approaches. It must be acted on in the Senate State Affairs Committee in order to advance to the floor, and the end of the session is nearing.
Under HB 1802, which passed the Senate on Saturday in a 25-5 vote, the state would be required to study the medical risks and benefits of psilocybin, MDMA and ketamine for military veterans in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and a military-focused medical center. As amended by a House committee, it would also mandate a clinical trial into psilocybin for veterans with PTSD, in addition to a broader review of the scientific literature on all three substances.
The Senate adopted a balanced budget amendment to the bill clarifying that the psychedelic studies wouldn’t be carried out unless there’s funding allocated the effort—a situation already accounted for by a contingent rider for the funds.
Former Gov. Rick Perry (R), who also served as U.S. energy secretary, has called on lawmakers to approve the psychedelics legislation.
The cannabis concentrates measure that also advanced through the Senate is a modest reform compared to another proposal to more broadly decriminalize marijuana possession that recently passed the House but has since stalled. But if enacted, HB 2593 would mark the first time that Texas has reduced penalties associated with marijuana since the 1970s.