In a stunning turn of events, the Texas Senate unanimously approved the expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program to include more qualifying conditions and make the process easier for patients. The bill had previously passed in the House and now awaits final legislative approval before heading to Gov. Greg Abbot’s desk for his signature.
Pending those final steps, the Compassionate Use Act, which previously provided low-THC cannabis oil for patients with intractable epilepsy, will now include access for those with autism, terminal cancer, all forms of epilepsy, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, incurable neurodegenerative diseases, and more. In addition, the bill as currently constructed would strike the provision that patients need approval from two different doctors and instead will only need one.
“This bill is about compassion,” said state senator Donna Campbell, who sponsored the bill, to The Texas Tribune. “For patients participating in the [Compassionate Use Program], they have had a remarkable and life-altering change because of this. That’s compassion.”
However, the bill represents a small step for medical marijuana advocates in Texas rather than a large one. A THC-cap of 0.5% will remain for all marijuana products provided under the Compassionate Use Act. Nor will those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) qualify under the bill. Finally, the legislation strikes a previous provision that called for a research program to better understand marijuana’s efficacy for treating these various ailments.
.@SenatorLucio asks why PTSD isn’t included in the bill’s language. @DonnaCampbellTX: “Right now we just don’t have the data — good scientific data — that supports PTSD that we can put in the bill at this time.”
— Alexandra Samuels (@AlexSamuelsx5) May 22, 2019
As the Texas Observer noted, this “wasn’t the wide-ranging medical cannabis bill that Democrats and marijuana advocates wanted.” Instead it represents a half-measure that still leaves behind many and dramatically restricts those with the most serious illnesses from receiving the proper medicine.
“This kind of policy should have been one that passed without need for much conversation because of how limited it is,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told the Texas Observer. “We are still disappointed and kind of in dismay that the Legislature continues to fail the most sick Texans.”