The Lone Star State's state flag flying between two U.S. flags at the Texas state capitol building.

MATTHEW COLVIN DE DEVALLE

Texas Senate Approves MMJ Expansion Bill

The Texas Senate has advanced a bill containing several expansions to the state’s medical cannabis program; the measure still needs reconciliation by the House, however, who could seek further amendments to the legislation.

Full story after the jump.

The Texas Senate has unanimously approved a measure to expand the state’s list qualifying conditions list for its medical cannabis program, the Texas Tribune reports. The measure still needs to be reconciled by the House, who can approve the Senate’s changes or amend the legislation in a conference committee before the legislature adjourns in five days.

The bill changes the medical cannabis law to include all forms of epilepsy; seizure disorders; multiple sclerosis; spasticity; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease; terminal cancer; autism; and incurable neurodegenerative diseases. It also removes provisions requiring patients to receive the approval of two licensed neurologists to access the program.

The Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Donna Campbell, keeps the 5 percent THC cap on medical cannabis products and removes a requirement by the House bill that calls for a research program to assess the efficacy of medical cannabis for various conditions.

“This bill is about compassion. For patients participating in the [Compassionate Use Program], they have had a remarkable and life-altering change because of this. That’s compassion.” – Campbell, to the Tribune

During the debate, some lawmakers had called on the Senate version to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the regime; however, Campbell said there isn’t “good scientific data” that supports adding PTSD to the qualifying conditions list.

“I hope — I hope — that we can get the definitive research necessary to be able to include PTSD, traumatic brain injury and those other illnesses that are very difficult to measure,” Campbell said during the debate.

Earlier this month, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had indicated that the medical cannabis expansion bill was dead on arrival in the Senate, but Campbell said that Patrick had actually helped craft the newly-approved bill.

The bill initially passed the House 133-10 with two members voting present. If the chamber approves the Senate version, it will move to Gov. Greg Abbot for his signature.

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