Last week, a Texas House committee voted in favor of a bill to expand the state’s medical cannabis program. One of a number of cannabis reform bills discussed by the legislature last week, the legislation was sponsored by House Public Health committee chair Stephanie Klick. The bill is designed to significantly expand Texas’ already-limited medical marijuana Compassionate Use Program (“TCUP”), adding a couple more conditions to the list of diseases that qualify patients for a medical marijuana prescription.
Patients suffering from chronic pain and any type of cancer, as well as veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, will now be able to take medical marijuana to treat their conditions. Bill HB 1535 will also include debilitating conditions that have been determined by the Department of State Health Services and included on the list of qualifying conditions. On top of that, the legislation will increase the medical marijuana cap for THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) from 0.5% to 5%.
Finally, House Bill 1535 would create institutional review boards and authorize those boards to promote studies on medical cannabis and how the state’s medical cannabis program has affected its patients. The 11-0 vote in favor of the legislation came after a landmark committee hearing that included testimonies from physicians, veterans and Texans who were forced to manage or treat their medical conditions with opioids.
Klick, who authored as well as sponsored it, is also responsible for separate legislation that expanded the state’s medical cannabis program to include seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis (“MS”) and terminal cancer in 2019. Klick says the new bill will expand the medical cannabis program again and task Texas Health and Human Services with creating a medical cannabis research program. The legislation has been met with plenty of support from medical cannabis patients, industry stakeholders and drug reform advocates.
According to Texas Original Compassionate Cultivation CEO Morris Denton, the bill is a step in the right direction. However, he concedes that it still isn’t as comprehensive as he would have liked it to be, and his opinion is shared by many. The hope was that the committee would amend the legislation to remove the cap for THC, allow all patients who can benefit from it to use medical cannabis, allow independent laboratories to test marijuana products, and grant physicians and patients in the medical cannabis space legal protections.
Despite this, Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy isn’t worried. Its representatives as well as Senators will have the chance to make amendments to House Bill 1535 on the floor.
As the debate on the expansion of the medical cannabis bill rages on, there are cannabis products that are legal across the country. To access these products, consumers don’t need a physician’s recommendation. Such products include the CBD-infused tinctures, drinks, powder packs and gummies made by many companies, including The Alkaline Water Company Inc. (NASDAQ: WTER) (CSE: WTER).
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