Medical cannabis bill clears Texas Senate committee

medical plants

The use of cannabis to treat a variety of debilitating medical conditions cleared a major hurdle Thursday when a legislative panel approved what supporters call the Compassionate Use Program.

The action by the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee could move House Bill 3703 to the full chamber for a vote next week.

“The Texas Legislature took another step toward a more inclusive and functional Compassionate Use Program,” said Heather Fazio, director of the Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. “Sadly, though, the vast majority of patients are being left behind. We hope senators will consider including patients with other debilitating medical conditions like PTSD, severe pain, and Crohn’s Disease.”

The bill, which already has passed in the House, does not affect overall marijuana laws in Texas.

However, it does expand the medical use of cannabis to treat medical conditions including all epilepsy and seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, terminal cancer, and incurable neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, autism and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Several marijuana bills, however, remained bottled up.

The House has passed a measure by El Paso Democrat to effectively decriminalize first-time possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. But House Bill 63 is a nonstater in the Senate where Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the presiding officer, has said he opposes any relaxation of drug laws.

Time for considering legislation is short. The session in Austin ends May 27.

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