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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Texas loosens state-level hemp ban, but uncertainty remains

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Hemp holdout Texas is taking a big step toward embracing the federally legal plant, with one agency announcing a rule change to remove the plant from the state’s definition of marijuana.

But entrepreneurs hoping that Texas will allow a hemp industry before federal agencies take action say that the April 5 change isn’t enough to allow the booming industry to take root in the nation’s second-largest state.

The change was quietly announced earlier this month, when the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) added a notice to a state register that it would amend its definition of marijuana to carve out hemp with no more than 0.3% THC.

The agency said the change would align Texas’ definitions with the new federal standard adopted in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Hemp activists applauded the change, noting that the agency changing its definition was the same one that said last year it would yank CBD products off shelves.

That crackdown was put on hold pending a legal review.

Continue reading “Texas loosens state-level hemp ban, but uncertainty remains”