Medical cannabis bill introduced in Texas House of Representatives
A bill has been introduced in the Texas House of Representatives today which would establish a whole plant medical marijuana program.
Filed by Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville), HB 2107 is identical to SB 269, filed by Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio).
Should either bill pass their respective chambers, they’ll have to be voted on by both the House and Senate before arriving at Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. They’ll have to clear committee before either chamber can consider them in full however. HB 2107 will likely be sent to the Public Health Committee in the House, while SB 269 has already been assigned to the Health & Human Services committee.
The bills would create a whole plant medical cannabis program for patients with a debilitating medical condition. The program will replace the current Compassionate Use Program which allows only for CBD oil, and will be administered by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Unlike some other states, these bills would also prevent county and city governments from prohibiting dispensaries or cultivators.
Conditions listed in the bills include cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, sickle cell anemia, severe fibromyalgia, spinal cord disease, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury or post-concussion syndrome, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, or Huntington’s disease.
Also qualifying would be any chronic medical condition which produces cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe and persistent muscle spasms, or any other medical condition approved as a debilitating medical condition by department rule or any symptom caused by the treatment of a medical condition that is approved as a debilitating medical condition by department rule.
Of note as well, several other marijuana-related bills were referred to committee in the House today, including HB 58, HB 436, and HB 542.
HB 58 would create a special court for certain first-time marijuana possession offenders “based on the principle that first-time defendants who commit low-level, nonviolent offenses involving the possession of marihuana are often self-correcting, without the need for more formal and costly criminal justice intervention.” However this would not automatically establish such a court, it would instead leave the option up to the decision of county commissioners. It also gives prosecutors the option to not allow a defendant to take part in such a court.
HB 436 and HB 542 are both similar, in that they involve drug testing for benefits, the first being for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), with the latter being for those seeking benefits under the medical assistance program.
To date, 18 cannabis-related bills have been filed with the state legislature. The deadline to file is Friday, March 10.
It is not known when either HB 2107 or SB 269 will be heard by their respective committee, and generally notice is short for such hearings, usually less than a week. A coalition of groups working together with Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy will be sending out updates in the near future about how people can help pass these two bills.