Texas: Medical Cannabis Update – #TxLege

Rep. Stephanie Klick, Chairwoman of the Public Health Committee, has filed HB 1535 to expand the Texas Compassionate Use Program, our state’s low-THC medical cannabis program. She established the program in 2015 and expanded it in 2019.

Once again, it is an incremental approach with some good provisions.
Here are the basics:

More Qualifying Conditions:
Cancer, Chronic Pain, and PTSD for Veterans. It also allows the Department of State Health Services to add new qualifying conditions through their administrative rule-making process.

More Access to THC:
Lifts the cap on THC from .5% to 5%.

Encourage Research:
Allows the establishment of “Institutional Review Boards,” which will facilitate research and track the impact of medical cannabis on patients participating in the program. These IRBs have to be affiliated with a licensed dispensary and either a medical school, hospital, or have a special accreditation.

Commentary

  • We are happy to see chronic pain included and the “terminal” qualifier removed, so all cancer patients have access. PTSD absolutely should be included, but not for veterans only (as many of them will tell you). Sadly, with this bill, we are still leaving so many patients behind.
  • The raised THC cap is good, but 5% is arbitrary. Doctors (not lawmakers) should be the ones deciding on dosing for patients.
  • There’s still no mechanism for independent testing, which is the only way to truly ensure consumer protection and industry accountability.
  • To participate, doctors still need to “prescribe” cannabis, an act that jeopardizes their registration with the DEA and their ability to prescribe controlled substances to any of their patients. Thankfully, we’ve seen some brave Texas doctors participate in the program in spite of the risk. To protect them, we need to change the law and allow them to “certify” a patient for the program, rather than “prescribing” cannabis.
  • There are no patient protections included in this bill. We need to do all we can to protect the vulnerable Texans participating in the Compassionate Use Program. No patient should have their parental rights jeopardized or be disqualified for a job because they use cannabis legally under state law. Gun rights need to be protected and professional licensing should never be compromised because a patient chooses cannabis rather than pharmaceuticals.

ACTION: Click here to encourage your legislators to support a comprehensive expansion of the Compassionate Use Program!

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