Texas Governor Signs Another Cannabis Bill

Medical cannabis - Texas
Image: mohamed_hassan

The pretty much non-existent medical cannabis program in Texas has had a boost after House Bill 3703 was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott late last week.

House Bill 3703 relates to the prescription of low-THC cannabis by suitably qualified physicians to patients with certain medical conditions. The bill was well supported, attracting 79 sponsors.

This expands the state’s very restrictive Compassionate Use Program, with low THC products (defined as not more than 0.5 percent by weight of tetrahydrocannabinols) to now be available to patients with one of the following added conditions.

  • seizure disorders
  • multiple sclerosis
  • terminal cancer
  • incurable neurodegenerative disease
  • autism
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • spasticity

While some news outlets are reporting the law will come into effect on September 1, as it received more than a two-thirds vote from both legislative chambers, HB 3703 becomes effective immediately.

The Texas Compassionate Use Act  was enacted back in 2015 and up to this point low-THC cannabis was permitted for use only by patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. Approval was also required from two neurologists.

Under HB 3703, a physician can be deemed qualified to prescribe low-THC cannabis if the physician is board certified in a medical specialty relevant to the treatment of the patient’s particular medical condition by a suitably approved specialty board, and the physician dedicates a significant portion of  clinical practice evaluating and treating the condition in question.

Currently there are approximately 52 physicians in the state permitted to prescribe low-THC cannabis.

There are just three licensed cannabis dispensaries open in the entire state, which hasn’t been a problem per se given the small number of patients able to access the program. With the addition of the above conditions, it will be interesting to see how current infrastructure copes. More dispensaries would certainly be welcomed by patients who have to travel significant distances to collect their medicines.

In other cannabis related news out of the Lone Star state, Governor Abbott signed House Bill 1325 into law last week. HB1325 legalises cultivation and processing of hemp and products derived from it, including cannabidiol (CBD).