Will Texas Expand Its Medical Marijuana Program?

The Texas Senate sent House Bill 1535 back to the House for approval, adding in tight restrictions that would limit the bill’s purpose of expanding the state’s medical marijuana program.

While the revised bill tightened up provisions in the original, it signals a start of a potential expansion of medical marijuana access in Texas, but only if it passes muster with the house again and if Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs it into law.

HB1535 would expand access to medical marijuana to Texans with cancer and those with other debilitating medical conditions. When the bill was amended in the House, access to medical marijuana was expanded to all patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, not just veterans, as the original bill provided.

When it went to the state senate, however, the bill’s provision that all patients suffering from chronic pain would be eligible for medical marijuana treatment was nixed. The Texas Senate also reduced how much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the chemical that induces a “high”) would be allowed in medical marijuana products.

Currently, such products available in Texas’ Compassionate Use Program can contain no more than 0.5% THC by weight. HB1535 had expanded that amount to 5%, but the Senate’s version of the bill reduced the expansion to only 1%.

While the Senate has certainly watered down what HB1535 would have originally provided, it’s still an incremental change toward expanding medical marijuana access in Texas. In time, perhaps, even The Lone Star State may join the others that have significantly freed up access and even legalized marijuana.