Texas expansion of medical cannabis nears finish line after Senate approval

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The 86th Legislature runs from Jan. 8 to May 27. From the state budget to health care to education policy — and the politics behind it all — we focus on what Texans need to know about the biennial legislative session.

Marijuana advocates were handed an unlikely victory Wednesday after the Texas Senate advanced a bill greatly expanding the list of debilitating medical conditions that can legally be treated by cannabis oil in the state.

Although the upper chamber’s leadership once opposed bills that would relax the state’s pot policies, the Senate unanimously voted in favor of a bill by state Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, that expands the state’s Compassionate Use Program, which currently allows the sale of cannabis oil only to people with intractable epilepsy who meet certain requirements.

The bill now heads back to the Texas House, where lawmakers can either approve the Senate changes or opt to iron out their differences in a conference committee before lawmakers adjourn in five days. Klick did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether she’d accept the Senate changes to her bill.

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Medical cannabis bill clears Texas Senate committee

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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.

Amended medical marijuana bill passes committee unanimously

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Austin, Texas – A bill which would expand Texas’ medical marijuana program has passed out of the House Committee on Public Health with unanimous support.

HB 1365, filed by Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville), would expand the Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP) to include more qualifying conditions and would allow more doctors to work with patients in the program. The legislation currently has the bi-partisan support of 56 state legislators as both authors and coauthors.

Conditions which would now qualify for participation in TCUP include cancer, autism, PTSD, and neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Tourrette syndrome. Other diseases include Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis.

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Here’s What Medical Cannabis Looks Like in Texas

Compassionate Cultivation founder and CEO Morris Denton looks over marijuana plants in the company’s flowering room in Manchaca, Texas.

Nearly all forms of cannabis are illegal in Texas. And by illegal, I mean very illegal. Possession of a small amount of cannabis concentrate—what we in the legal states know as a $30 vape cartridge—is a felony in the Lone Star State.

Medical marijuana here has almost no THC. It’s actually lower in THC than hemp-derived CBD.
But there is one form of cannabis that is allowed. It’s a highly specialized cannabidiol oil that contains, by law, no more than 0.5% THC and no less than 10% CBD. It’s available only to patients with intractable epilepsy, and three companies are licensed to produce and distribute it.

The latest prospects for marijuana reform in Texas: Both major parties pushing for changes at Capitol

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Lawmakers have filed 13 bills related to marijuana policy so far this session, with Gov. Greg Abbott signaling he is on board with reducing penalties for possession of small amounts of pot.

Many states have approved the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. To date, the only major piece of legislation in Texas is the use of low-THC oil for children suffering from intractable epilepsy.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has approved 40 doctors from three clinics for the prescription of low-THC cannabis. The three companies providing low-THC cannabis in Texas are Cansortium Texas, based in Schulenberg; Compassionate Cultivation in Manchaca, just south of Austin; and Surterra Wellness in Austin.

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Texas Lawmaker Calls for Legalization of Medical Marijuana

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When the Texas legislature goes into session on Jan. 8, the legalization of medical marijuana is certain to be a hot-button issue. Noting that it is already legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia, Sen. Jose Menendez says the time has come for Texas to make its use legal here. Continue reading “Texas Lawmaker Calls for Legalization of Medical Marijuana”

Texas Marijuana Advocates Set Sights on 2019 Legislative Session

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Texas is poised for historic action in 2019 to ease some marijuana prohibitions and join a national cannabis legalization movement that, to varying degrees, has already swept up all four of its border states.

Or maybe not.

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Texas: Leading Marijuana Prohibitionist Fails In Congressional Re-Election Bid

House Rules Committee Meets To Formulate Rule Providing Authority To Initiate Litigation Against Actions By The President

One of Congress’ most powerful and vocal marijuana prohibitionists, Republican Pete Sessions of Texas, failed in his re-election bid for Congress’ 32nd District. Sessions was defeated by Democratic challenger Colin Allred.

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