Alabama, Hawaii, and Missouri committees have advanced bills to decriminalize cannabis. The Gov. of New Mexico has also signed cannabis decriminalization into law. And by all appearances, Texas may be the next state to join the ranks of decriminalization.
On Wednesday the Texas House committee approved a cannabis bill to expand the medical marijuana program in the state. The new legislation adds several items to the list of health conditions that qualify patients in the state for participation in the program. Furthermore, there are even more cannabis oriented bills circulating that will soon result in voting on whether or not to decriminalize cannabis in the state as well as the legalization of hemp.
Due to the proposed bill, patients with the following conditions would be able to receive medical cannabis:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Huntington’s disease
- Tourette syndrome
- Ulcerative colitis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Multiple sclerosis
- side effects such as severe nausea from conventional therapies
The above conditions being added to the state’s previously limited medical cannabis system is a huge step forward for residents of Texas who will benefit from prescription marijuana. Currently, Texas, with a population of nearly 29 million people, has a ridiculously low number of medical marijuana patients; a measly 600.
“Overall, we’re really pleased to see unanimous support for the legislation out of the public health committee,” said the director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, Heather Fazio. “Legislators are taking this issue more seriously now than ever before, and they’re responding to their constituents who want to see these laws changed.”
Fazio went on to say that she is especially encouraged that the widely supported legislation could establish a research panel to study medical cannabis in the state of Texas.
However, not all advocates of cannabis in Texas are happy with the bill as is. For example, the proposed THC cap of 0.5 percent being lifted, was not approved. Even more, advocates worried that the terminology “recommend” verse “prescribe” (regarding cannabis, of course) would pose an issue with health professionals as cannabis is still federally illegal after all. That said, the bill does define “prescription” in such a way that protects health professional in the state from federal repercussions.
As for now, the legislation is on its way to the House Calendars committee while waiting to be scheduled for a full vote by the House.
While the state of Texas may not seem like the most likely of states to support cannabis reform, one might be surprised how serious state legislators are beginning to take the issue. Just this month three House committees talked about nearly a dozen cannabis-oriented bills.
These proposed bills included everything from the legalization of hemp to further expansions to the medical marijuana program and the decriminalization of marijuana altogether.
One bill, a decriminalization bill, advanced from the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee with a 5-2 vote last month.
An additional piece of legislation which was unanimously advanced by the House Agriculture and Livestock Committee is scheduled for a debate in the full House next week. The bill would further the legalization of hemp and cannabinoids such as CBD.
“We’re seeing that policymakers are finally catching up with public opinion and where their constituents stand on this important issue that has affected so many lives and families and communities over the last nearly a century,” said Fazio. “Thankfully people are having meaningful conversations about how current policies are failing and new ways that we can move forward.”