A Texas House committee on Wednesday approved a bill to significantly expand the state’s medical marijuana program.
It’s been a busy week for cannabis reform in the legislature, where multiple panels have taken up proposals ranging from decriminalizing marijuana to establishing regulations for the state’s hemp market.
The medical cannabis legislation, HB 1535, unanimously passed the House Public Health Committee in a 11-0 vote.
Sponsored by Chairwoman Stephanie Klick (R), the bill would add cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (for veterans only) as conditions that could qualify people for the state’s limited medical cannabis program.
It would further allow the Department of State Health Services to add more qualifying conditions via administrative rulemaking. And it would also raise the THC cap for medical marijuana products from 0.5 percent to five percent.
Finally, the measure would establish “institutional review boards” that would be tasked with helping to promote research into medical cannabis and review how the program is impacting patients.
Advocates celebrated the bill’s passage, though they hoped it would’ve been amended to allow doctors determine which patients would benefit from cannabis regardless of their health condition, remove any THC cap, allow testing of marijuana products by independent laboratories and provide explicit legal physician and patient protections.
Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy said that despite the lack of committee revisions, “our representatives will have a chance to make amendments on the floor and senators can amend it later in the process.”
It’s unusual for the committee to have taken testimony and voted on the proposal in the same day. Several bills to decriminalize low-level possession of marijuana were debated in a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, for example, but no action was taken.
Meanwhile, legislation that would make certain changes to the state’s hemp program, including imposing rules