Texas Senate approves bill to expand medical cannabis program

The Texas Senate has approved legislation that would expand the state's medical cannabis program,

House Bill 3703 was passed unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday.

The bill will now head the House, which has to approve the changes made by the Senate. It would then go to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk if the changes are approved.

Under the 2015 Compassionate Use Act, Texans with a rare form of epilepsy can already use medical cannabis as treatment. The new bill would expand the list of debilitating illnesses that can legally access it.

The bill would expand the state’s Compassionate Use Program to include patients diagnosed with: epilepsy, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, Lou Gehrig’s disease, autism, terminal cancer, or incurable neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s.

Patients diagnosed with these diseases would be able to receive a prescription for “low-THC cannabis,” which has no more than 0.5% of THC.

Medical cannabis has low levels of THC, the element in marijuana that produces a high. It also has very high levels of CBD, the chemical element in marijuana that doesn’t produce a high but has many reported health benefits.

If signed into law by Gov. Abbott, legislation would take effect September1, 2019.