Texas lawmakers approve medical marijuana expansion bill

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House Bill 1365 was passed by The Texas House of Representatives in a 121-23 vote. Sponsor of the bill, Democratic Rep. Eddie Lucio, told the other lawmakers in the House that he wants to help people in Texas who are suffering from all kinds of conditions.  

“Today, I don’t just stand here as a member of this body but as a voice for thousands of people in this state that are too sick to function or that in constant, debilitating pain,” said Lucio.  

The bill adds more than a dozen “debilitating medical conditions,” including cancer, HIV/AIDS, PTSD and Crohn’s disease to Texas' medical cannabis program. Conditions that cause pain, vomiting, seizures and other symptoms are also included in the bill.

“There are countless Texans enduring insurmountable pain as they battle diseases like cancer, autism and PTSD,” Lucio said when he introduced the bill on Monday. “This is undoubtedly a complex bill, members. But it has taken countless hours of time to develop a system we believe would work best to serve those in need.”

“By combining needed patient protections and a comprehensive research component, this bill provides a framework to improve the lives of countless Texans in the near future.”

An MMJ oversight board would also be set up to create new formulations and dosages for illnesses. This would mean that, depending on the condition, some Texans would be able to get medical cannabis with higher levels of THC.

The bill will also make it easier for patients to qualify for the medical cannabis program in Texas. Under the new bill, a recommendation from a neurologist and a second opinion from a physician are sufficient to qualify.

Texas cannabis and patient advocacy groups are happy with the expansion bill and are happy that the lawmakers have taken the steps to improve the medical cannabis industry in the state.

“Texans overwhelmingly support the expansion of medical cannabis, and it’s encouraging that lawmakers have championed bills that make safety the priority, emphasize the need for scientific research, insist on the importance of the doctor-patient relationship, and create high industry guardrails to ensure quality and consistency for patients,” said Brian Sweany of the advocacy group Texans for Expanded Access to Medical Marijuana.

The bill now heads to the more conservative Texas Senate to be considered.

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