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Texas medical marijuana bill passes committee with 76 legislators in support

Update 5/11/17: This bill was not scheduled for a vote by the Texas House and is now dead. Click here to find out how this bill ended up.

Original Story: A bill to allow patients access to whole plant medical marijuana has passed out of committee. This comes after a long hearing earlier in the week, followed by an outpouring of calls and emails.

HB 2107 was voted in favor 7-2 by members of the Texas House Public Health Committee today according to Heather Fazio with Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, a coalition group who promoted the legislation.

It now proceeds to the Calendar Committee for a vote on whether it will be scheduled to be heard by the full Texas House of Representatives.

This is the first comprehensive bill of its kind to be passed out of committee. During the 2015 legislative session a similar bill had much support, however then-chair of the committee, former Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton) refused to schedule a vote on it. This led to Texans from across the state pounding her office with phone calls before they shut their phone system down in response.

A similar scenario unfolded this week, as legislators have only until Monday, May 8 to pass any remaining bills out of committee.

Cutting it close to the deadline, numerous patients, parents, caregivers, and concerned citizens reached out to Rep. Four Price’s office to ask that he schedule the bill for a vote before the deadline. At one point the calls overwhelmed office staff. Soon after, Rep. Price, who is chair of the Public Health Committee, held a vote on the bill.

HB 2107 expands the Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP), a CBD oil program for children with epilepsy which was passed into law during the 2015 session.

“This is critical legislation that could dramatically help thousands of patients and families throughout Texas,” Fazio stated after the vote. “It will make the Compassionate Use Program workable and more inclusive for patients with debilitating medical conditions. We are seeing an unprecedented level of support for medical cannabis legislation in the House of Representatives, and we hope the Calendars Committee will make it a priority to schedule a vote on this important bill. Seriously ill Texans should not have to wait another couple years for the medical cannabis program to be fixed. Lawmakers have an opportunity to do it now, and we hope they will do everything in their power to capitalize on it.“

Under the proposed changes, it would include numerous patients, including those with 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.

After a four plus hour tear-jerker of a hearing earlier this week, a number of legislators in the House signed on in support of the bill. Out of the 150 members of the legislative body, there are now a majority of 76 Representatives in support.

The 2017 legislative session is slated to end on Monday, May 29. The legislation must be passed by the House, then head to the Senate, before coming back to the House for a final vote, at which point it will head to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk, where he can choose to either sign, veto, or let it sit until it becomes law on its own.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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