PTSD and Cancer Get Closer to Being Approved for Treatment with Medical Cannabis in Texas

PTSD and Cancer Get Closer to Being Approved for Treatment with Medical Cannabis in Texas

 

Representative Stephanie Klick’s HB 1535, which would expand the medical marijuana program in Texas to include a much larger group of patients known to benefit from cannabis treatment, is slowly making its way through the legislature.  The bill widens the program to include the treatment of PTSD, chronic pain, and all forms of cancer with medical marijuana per the Compassionate Use program.  Unfortunately, Lt Governor Dan Patrick is using political tactics to shut it down by delaying the bill until this legislative year ends.

The Texas House gave approval on Thursday April 28th to HB 1535, and now it moves on to Lt Governor Dan Patrick’s desk.  With less than two weeks left in this year’s legislative session, supporters of the bill accused Dan Patrick of blocking the proposal by not sending it to Senate Committee. 

The Texas House voted overwhelmingly to pass the bill, with a 134-12 vote, sending it on to the Senate.  It has stalled here at the hands of Dan Patrick for over two weeks - presumable in the hopes of running out the clock on this years session.  After a grass-roots effort with hundreds of voters calling their legislators to voice their support for the bill, Lt Governor Patrick finally called the bill to the Senate State Affairs committee.  He then stalled further by refusing to call the committee to vote on the bill. 

More troops rallied to the cause, jamming lines of Senate Committee members and calling the Lt Governor’s office as well, insisting that he follow through on his passing the bill to committee by actually calling the committee to see it. 

As of May 20th, 2021 HB 1535 thus continues to face significant hurdles in order to pass into law.  It must advance out of committee and receive approval from the full Senate in three short days - clearly illustrating Patrick’s motives to block the bill despite overwhelming public and government support.  In 2019, Patrick stated he is “strongly opposed to weakening any laws against marijuana and remains wary of the various medicinal use proposals that could become a vehicle for expanding access to this drug.  Many doctors and addiction specialists point to the science that shows marijuana works as a harm reduction drug, reducing opiate addiction in addition to addiction to other, more harmful pharmaceutical drugs.

The bill authored by Rep Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, would expand Texas’ medical cannabis program to include those with chronic pain, all cancer patients, and patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  It would also authorize the Department of State Health Services to add additional qualifying conditions through administrative entities rather than going through the State Legislature. 

Most people are confused by Patrick’s stance against medical cannabis, which is a very moderate expansion with bipartisan backing.  Not surprisingly, Patrick’s office was unavailable to the press for comment.

The founder of the Veterans Cannabis Project, Nick Etten, stated that this bill would expand the use of medical cannabis to provide “a vital lifeline to military veterans.  Texans has a long history of supporting our veterans,” Etten said.  “But when it comes to giving them the tools to fight their pain and trauma after service, Texas falls short of other states and must do better.”

The bill would increase the THC cap for medical cannabis in Texas up to 5% - a significant and important increase from the current cap of .5%.   

 

Author
Dr. Allison Kendrick

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