The Texas House Committee on Public Health approved a bill Friday afternoon (7-2) that would legalize medical marijuana by fixing what advocates call an “unworkable” medical cannabis program.
The bill will now be considered by the Calendars Committee, which will decide whether it receives a full House vote. The legislation gained significant traction after the committee heard testimony from patients, caregivers, medical professionals, and other advocates late into the evening on Tuesday. The number of representatives signed on as either joint or co-authors jumped from five to more than 70 on Wednesday.
House Bill 2107 would increase the number of medical conditions that qualify for the Texas Compassionate Use Program and allow patients to participate if they receive an official recommendation from their doctors. It would also improve the variety of medical marijuana available to patients. The program currently only permits patients suffering from intractable epilepsy to access specific types of medical marijuana that have been found to be ineffective for some patients. It also requires doctors to “prescribe” medical marijuana, which is not possible under federal law.
“This is critical legislation that could dramatically help thousands of patients and families throughout Texas”, says Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “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.”
Fazio continues; “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.“