Reading between the lines, Texas House Bill 2593 is meant to decrease the number of people “under felony community supervision or incarcerated within the state correctional institutions” according to the bill’s Fiscal Notes. Whether this occurs or not is yet to be determined. This goal is expected to be accomplished by making the possession of any form of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, basically a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
The downgrade from a felony to misdemeanor level for the possession of THC will be done by creating a Penalty Group 2-B in the Health and Safety Code, which will include “Tetrahydrocannabinols, other than marijuana, and synthetic equivalents of the substances contained in the plant, or in the resinous extractives of Cannabis, or synthetic substances, derivatives, and their isomers with similar chemical structure and pharmacological activity, including certain specified structures and compounds of those structures.” Further, since THC and its derivatives will be in Penalty Group 2-B, it will be denoted as a “controlled substance” under the Texas Pharmacy Act and will no longer be termed a “dangerous drug” under the act.
What is interesting is that there is no potency limits included in the language of this bill. Some forms of THC are available in potencies in the 90% plus range. Further, science has proven and documented that high potency THC can cause significant mental issues including paranoia, psychosis, schizophrenia, suicidality and bi-polar disorder. THC is indeed a “dangerous drug”.
The bill also has no provisions for education on the harms of THC. Since possession now starts at the misdemeanor level, this bill sends a silent message to our young that using THC is not really that big of a deal; there will no longer a strong detriment to its use. Rather, possession will result with only a “slap on the wrist”.
The fact that this bill was voted on and passed by both the House and Senate shows how ill informed the Texas legislators are about the negative effects of THC. It should be noted that the Colorado Public and Behavioral Health & Human Services Legislative Committee recently unanimously voted “yes” for HB 21-1317. This bill requires the Colorado School of Public Health to do a thorough review of the current scientific research related to the physical and mental health effects of high-potency THC marijuana and concentrates and complete a detailed report on their findings. The bill also creates a scientific review board that will examine the report and make recommendations (potency, etc.) to the general assembly. Based on the research and findings, the Colorado School of Public Health will develop a public education campaign on the effects of high-potency THC marijuana on the developing brain and mental health.
It is clear that the Texas legislators did not consider the many unintended consequences of HB-2593. Therefore, the Governor should veto this bill. Anything less would be considered a dereliction of duty by a government official.
Jesse Le Blanc, BSME
Citizens for a Safe and Healthy Texas