AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas lawmakers are one step closer to significantly expanding access to medical cannabis. The Texas House Committee on Public Health this week unanimously approved a bill to increase the THC limits in medical cannabis and expand who is eligible to use it.
HB 1805 by State Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) would change the definition of “low-cannabis THC” to 10 milligrams. Cannabis products are currently limited to 1% THC by weight. It would also expand the list of eligible Texans to anyone with a debilitating medical condition or chronic pain “for which a physician would otherwise prescribe an opioid.” Currently, only a limited number of chronic illnesses such as cancer, epilepsy, and PTSD are eligible.
Texas Original Compassionate Cultivation, Texas’ first licensed medical cannabis distributor, said the changes would allow thousands more Texans to access critical pain relief in a safe way.
“Medical cannabis is a life-saving medicine for people with multiple conditions,” Texas Original CEO Nico Richardson said. “When we look across the United States, there are a number of very well-regulated well-operating medical cannabis programs. And millions of patients have now seen relief from being able to take medical cannabis in lieu of other medicines, specifically opioids. We believe Texas and Texans deserve that same access.”
More than 47,000 Texans are enrolled in the Texas Compassionate Use Program. Richardson said that number is far lower than the number of Texans who could benefit from it.
“Florida has 700,000 patients in their medical cannabis program. Florida is 20 million people. We are a fraction of the size because our conditions are unnecessarily tightened at this point. And we should expand the condition list,” he said. “HB 1805 actually does a very good job of getting a big step closer to having much better access for patients across across Texas.”
Texas Agriculture Commissioner, a staunch Republican, has long been a vocal proponent of the crop.
“We want to leave that decision up to the doctors. What we have now is a patchwork where it’s okay for some diseases and maladies and others it’s not, even though we have the science,” Commissioner Miller said in a January interview. “This drug is much safer than hydrocodone, Oxycontin, amphetamines. There’s no physical harm. We’ve got the science behind it. We’re not asking for recreational marijuana. We’re just asking to help people.”
The bill has moved steadily through the legislative process with bipartisan support and is now waiting in the House Calendars Committee for a date to be considered in the full House.