Texas is still one of the most conservative states in the country when it comes to medical marijuana, with a very limited CBD-only law. They are one of the few states who have held off on making medical marijuana accessible to those who need it. However, two different bills have finally gotten the chance to move forward with overwhelmingly supportive votes in the state House of Representatives. Both bills aim to expand the Compassionate Use Act, which currently only allows Texans with intractable epilepsy to use low-THC cannabis oil or CBD oil.
“There are countless Texans enduring insurmountable pain as they battle diseases like cancer, autism and PTSD,” Representative Eddie Lucio III said as he introduced his bill late Monday evening.
House Bill 1365, introduced by Representative Lucio, was the first to pass with a vote of 128-20. This bill would increase the number of dispensaries in the state from three to 12 and would authorize the implementation of cannabis testing facilities to analyze and ensure the safety and potency of cannabis products. It would also add a longer list of qualifying conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Crohn’s disease, muscular dystrophy, autism spectrum disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, among others.
“This is undoubtedly a complex bill, members. But it has taken countless hours of time to develop a system we believe would work best to serve those in need. By combining needed patient protections and a comprehensive research component, this bill provides a framework to improve the lives of countless Texans in the near future,” Lucio said.
The second bill, House Bill 3703, was introduced by Representative Stephanie Klick who authored the 2015 Compassionate Use Act. It would add multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and muscle spasticity to the list of qualifying conditions. This bill is much more limited than the one introduced by Rep. Lucio, only allowing the state’s existing three dispensaries to open additional locations to meet patient needs. It also calls for a research program to assess how cannabis is effective for other conditions, which then may be added later. This bill passed with a vote of 133-10.
Whether these bills will make it any further now that they have reached the Senate is still up in the air. Klick is optimistic that her bill stands a chance in the more conservative Senate – and she is likely right that it will be favored over Lucio’s more progressive expansion. However, there is hope that one – or perhaps even both – of these bills could be passed in the Senate and sent to the governor. With any luck, thousands more Texans will at least have access to low-THC cannabis oil before this legislative session is up.