Texas has traditionally been stand-offish when it comes to any form of legalized cannabis. But things could be changing. Lawmakers held an important hearing this week to discuss a new set of laws that would dramatically expand the state’s medical marijuana program.
Medical Cannabis In Texas
In 2015, Texas lawmakers approved the Compassionate Use Act. This law allows people with a very rare form of epilepsy to use CBD oil. Qualifying patients can access the oil only after they’ve tried at least two other forms of treatment.
The program has come under criticism. For starters, the program has not actually helped any patients yet. That’s because the state has yet to license any dispensaries.
Beyond that, those who are unhappy with the current system also say it is too restrictive. Critics argue that the Compassionate Use Act is so limiting that it will benefit very few people.
As a response to all this, lawmakers in Texas are now considering House Bill 2107. This new set of laws would expand the state’s current medical marijuana program.
HB 2107 would let anyone with a debilitating illness use medical cannabis, as long as a doctor verifies that the condition is serious enough. It would also allow patients to use all parts of the cannabis plant in addition to the CBD oil that’s already allowed.
Steps Toward Legalization
This week was an important one for HB 2107 and for the cannabis advocates who want to see it passed into law. Last week, patients, doctors, and activists rallied at the Texas State Capitol in Austin.
They called on lawmakers to have an official hearing on HB 2107. Although hearings do not create legislation, they are often the first concrete step toward the consideration of new laws.
Shortly after the rally, State Rep. Four Price called for a hearing, which took place this week. Medical cannabis advocates held another rally before the hearing.
“We can’t really tolerate indecision from our legislators anymore,” said cannabis activist Heath Fazio. “All of these people here who can benefit from this don’t have time to wait.”
Along with this week’s hearing, the state’s Department of Public Safety has also given “conditional approval” to three companies to make and sell CBD oil in Texas. The DPS now needs to inspect and approve the companies’ facilities before they can begin selling medical products. Those inspections must happen before September 1.
The Final Hit
This week’s hearing on HB 2107 could be the first step toward a significantly expanded medical marijuana program in Texas.
If the state moves in this direction, Texas will join a number of other states in the move toward legalization. There were several key victories for cannabis in last fall’s elections.
Four states voted to legalize recreational weed and four more adopted new medical cannabis laws. Recreational cannabis is now legal in eight states plus Washington, D.C. Medical Marijuana is legal in 20 other states.