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by RYAN McCRIMMON

AUSTIN — A proposal to legalize marijuana in Texas will head to the calendars committee, and possibly the House floor, after it was approved by a House committee Wednesday evening.

House Bill 2165 by state Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, would allow possession and delivery of marijuana beginning in September 2015. It would still be illegal to sell the drug to minors. The measure passed the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on a 5-2 vote.

“I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix,” Simpson wrote in a March op-ed in the The Texas Tribune. He said the plant should be “regulated like tomatoes, jalapenos or coffee.”

The measure initially passed on a 5-1 vote, catching at least one member of the committee by surprise: state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, who wasn’t present for the first vote. Leach asked Chairman Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, to take another vote so he could register a vote against the measure. Leach said Herrero knew that he was opposed to legalizing pot. A second vote was taken.

The other no vote came from state Rep. Matt Shaheen, R-Plano.

RYAN McCRIMMON reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is made available here through a news partnership between the Texas Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.

COVER: PHOTO ILLUSTRATION by TODD WISEMAN/THE TEXAS TRIBUNE

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