The Public Health Committee will meet on Wednesday, April 7th to consider HB 1535, a bill intended to improve access to medical cannabis. The meeting will begin at 8am at the Texas Capitol and will be live streamed here. Follow this event page on Facebook for live updates.
The bill, authored by Committee Chairwoman Stephanie Klick, would add cancer, chronic pain, and PTSD (for veterans only) as qualifying conditions for the Compassionate Use Program. If enacted, HB 1535 would also allow the Department of State Health Services to add new qualifying conditions through their administrative rule-making process.
Additionally, this proposal seeks to raise the cap on THC from .5% to 5% and create “Institutional Review Boards,” which will facilitate research and track the impact of medical cannabis on patients participating in the program.
Here are a few of our recommendations to improve this legislation:
- Let Doctor Decide on Access and Dosing
Doctors (not lawmakers) should determine whether or not a patient can benefit from medical cannabis. They should also be trusted to make decisions on dosing for their patients. Arbitrary limits on THC hurt vulnerable Texans who need it most.
- Authorize Independent Labs for Testing and Consumer Protection
There’s still no mechanism for independent testing of Compassionate Use Program medicine, which is the only way to truly ensure consumer protection and industry accountability.
- Protect Physicians
To participate, doctors are required to “prescribe” cannabis, an act that jeopardizes their registration with the DEA and their ability to prescribe controlled substances to any of their patients. To protect them, we need to change the law and allow them to “certify” a patient for the program, rather than “prescribing” cannabis.
- Protect Patients
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.
Here’s how you can help:
1) Submit written comments electronically. These comments will be included in the official legislative record and are a great way for you to show your support. Comments can be as simple as, “I support this legislation, but wish it went further to expand the Compassionate Use Program. Thank you for your consideration and service!”
You could also include a personal testimonial if you or a loved one have been impacted by medical cannabis or need access to improve your quality of life. Remember to keep it concise and always be respectful when communicating with lawmakers. (Note: 3000 character limit.)
2) Provide written or in-person testimony if you have personal or professional experience. Testimony can be provided several ways: written and submitted electronically, written and delivered in-person (12 copies), or oral testimony submitted in-person on the day of the hearing (2 minutes). If you’re planning to testify in-person, please let us know so we can coordinate. In-person witness registration can be found here. Instructions related to public access to the meeting location and health and safety protocols for attending this meeting are available here. When visiting the Capitol, please always dress professionally.
3) Contact your representative in support of more inclusive access to medical cannabis.
A live video broadcast of this hearing will be available here. Follow this event page on Facebook for live updates on marijuana bills throughout the rest of the legislative session!