Republican-sponsored medical Marijuana bill seen as pro-weed lobby’s best chance in Texas this year
A House committee gave unanimous approval last week to a bill that would boost the THC levels allowed in medical marijuana from 1 percent to 5 percent and allow for the Department of State Health Services to add qualifying conditions.
The legislation from Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, would additionally increase access to the state’s compassionate use program to individuals who suffer from chronic pain.
Due to the Republican support for Klick's bill, marijuana legislation experts, such as Texas NORML, believe it is the pro-weed legislation most likely to pass in the Legislature this year. A similar bill to allow more potent medical marijuana and expand its use to chronic pain is pending in the Senate.
The current list of qualifying conditions for the Texas Compassionate Use program includes epilepsy, a seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), autism, cancer, an incurable neurodegenerative disease or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
While many activists applaud what they consider forward movement, Elizabeth Miller, a Bedford woman who suffers from a joint disease, told the committee that the state should do more.
Miller, who has hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, testified at the Public Health Committee that more illnesses should qualify for cannabis use.
Miller said during a committee hearing on Mar. 13 that the state program is “overly narrow and leaves out many Texans who would benefit from cannabis as medicine,” such as herself.
Miller said she is “stuck using” illegal marijuana to relieve the painful symptoms she experiences. She said the only way her symptoms can be soothed, without additional issue, is by smoking marijuana, which is not an option within the state program. Texas currently only allows medical marijuana in pill form.
While expansion of the compassionate use program offers more options for Texans, the state would continue to have one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the country, according to a recent Americans for Safe Access report.
Miller said she believes the Legislature needs to do more to make medical marijuana more available to patients in need.
“We need a medical cannabis program that is accessible to all Texans, regardless of their income or disability,” said Miller.
The bill has yet to be scheduled before the full House for consideration.