AUSTIN, TX — On June 10, Governor Greg Abbott announced he would be open to signing into law, SB 1535, effectively expanding the state's medical marijuana program.
So who would qualify under this bill and what products would be available to them?
To begin, prior to this legislation, only about 6,000 Texans are registered in the state program.
Under SB 1535, Texas residents diagnosed with any of the following conditions by a physician would qualify to register:
- A seizure disorder
- Multiple sclerosis
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- An incurable neurodegenerative disease
- A medical condition that is approved for a research program under Subchapter F, Chapter 487, Health and Safety Code, and for which the patient is receiving treatment under that program
When launched in 2015, Texas only included patients with intractable epilepsy. Two years later, the program was expanded to include patients with seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, and cancer deemed terminal.
Despite efforts by local activists, people with chronic pain were removed from this list approved by the House, following amendments by the Texas Senate.
Additionally, patients that are still minors or lack the mental capacity to provide informed consent could have a parent, legal guardian, or conservator provide informed consent on their behalf to receive a prescription.
Prior to SB 1535, the state cap on THC, or the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis, was set at 0.5%, making Texas's medical marijuana program one of the most restrictive in the entire nation.
Originally, the Texas House was looking to increase the THC cap to 5%.
However, a committee substitute from Senator Charles Schwertner of District 5 dropped the cap back down to 1%.
For context, most cannabis products known to produce a 'high' after consumption, often have a THC content of 15-20% and upwards.
At 1%, it's unlikely such strains will produce a 'high', but rather a calming effect similar to CBD that was legalized under the Hemp Farming Act of 2018.
Sen. Schwertner, a Republican, represents the majority of the Brazos Valley and outlying counties, including Brazos, Freestone, Grimes, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Robertson, Walker, and Williamson.
This bill would also create a medical cannabis research program under the purview of Texas Health and Human Services.
To find a licensed doctor for a prescription, read here.
At the time of this publication, SB 1535 has not been signed into law. However, it is speculated that cannabis reform, similar to SB 1535, will be reintroduced during the upcoming summer session.
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