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Bill set to expand Texas medical marijuana

Medical marijuana has been a controversial topic in Texas, and the current medical marijuana program is one of the most restrictive in the country. Last month Texas lawmakers made large strides to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, but critics say the legislation doesn’t go far enough.

Passed on May 28, House Bill 3703 and waiting for approval from Gov. Greg Abbott, the bill would expand the number of conditions which qualify for medical marijuana, cut some of the red tape standing in the way of gaining a medical marijuana prescription and expand the legality of over-the-counter oils derived from cannabidiol (CBD).

Current laws

The current incarnation of Texas’ medical marijuana program, called the Compassionate Use Act, is extremely limiting. The only condition for which marijuana is prescriptible is intractable epilepsy, and to obtain a marijuana prescription, a patient must have the approval of two neurologists.

Those who do get approval to use medical marijuana may only use marijuana oil which contains 0.5 percent THC – the ingredient in marijuana that gets you high – or less. Currently, Texas has only granted licenses for three dispensaries across the state.

HB 3703 expansions

Abbott has until June 16 to sign HB 3703. If enacted, the bill would expand the number of conditions allowed treatment with medical marijuana and get rid of the requirement for two physicians to approve the prescription instead of just one. The following conditions could be treated with marijuana under HB 3703:

  • All forms of epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spasticity
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Terminal cancer
  • Autism
  • Incurable neurogenerative disease

Furthermore, the bill would allow the cultivation of hemp crops, a measure which has already passed in 40 other states. It would also OK the over-the-counter sales of products like CBD oil that contain 0.3 percent THC or less.

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