House approves limited medical marijuana bill

And there it is.

On a 96-34 vote, the House passed Senate Bill 339, from state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, which would legalize oils containing CBD, a non-euphoric component of marijuana known to treat epilepsy and other chronic medical conditions. If the House gives final passage in a follow-up vote, the measure will be Gov. Greg Abbott’s to sign, veto or allow to become law without his signature. If it becomes law, the state would be able to regulate and distribute the oils to patients whose symptoms have not responded to federally approved medication.

Before the vote, state Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, the bill’s House sponsor, repeatedly stressed to House members that the product she was trying to legalize should not be confused with marijuana.

“It is also not something you can get high on. It has a low risk of abuse,” Klick said. “This is not something that can be smoked. It is ingested orally.”


Several Republican lawmakers brought up those concerns during the House floor debate. At one point, over the shouts of House members booing, state Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, yelled, “This is a bad bill.”

State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, and a House sponsor of the bill along with Klick, responded. “It is not a bad bill. It is a great bill and it is going to save lives.”

See here for the background. This is not a bad bill, but it’s not a great bill, either. It should do some good, and it’s a step in the right direction, but remember that some CBD proponents opposed this bill because it didn’t do very much for them. I hope the Lege is as kind to Rep. Joe Moody’s bill to reduce marijuana penalties, but if this is all we get, I won’t be surprised. A statement from RAMP is beneath the fold, and Trail Blazers and the Current have more.

In an historic vote, the Texas House of Representatives has cleared the way for the first medical marijuana program in the State of Texas. The Texas Senate passed SB 339 on May 7, 2015 by a vote of 26-5. All that remains to be done for this bill to become law is a signature from Governor Greg Abbott. The bill allows for a very strict medical marijuana program that will provide extremely low-THC cannabis, which can only be prescribed for intractable epilepsy.

“RAMP is encouraged to see a serious conversation in the Texas Legislature in regards to the efficacy of marijuana,” says John Baucum, Political Director for RAMP. “Physicians and patients should determine the best treatment for their conditions. Thankfully, many lives will now be saved due to the availability of cannabidiol (CBD) to treat these severe seizure disorders.”

Several Texas residents have fled to Colorado for access to high-CBD strains of cannabis that can be refined into an oil and taken orally. These folks will have to wait a bit before the program is operational in Texas. The legislation puts the program under the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Public Safety, which has until September 1, 2017 to approve at least three dispensaries with the ability to produce and distribute the high-CBD cannabis oil.

Some House members were concerned about the “camel’s nose under the tent” leading to expansion of medical marijuana programs in Texas. There are many patients that will feel bittersweet about the passage of this legislation as it will help some, but not all of the patients advocating for access to medical marijuana to treat their conditions.

Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (RAMP) is a nonprofit organization working to educate and connect with Republican lawmakers, party leadership, and grassroots activists on marijuana issues. We support efforts to bring marijuana out of the black-market to be regulated for medical care and adult recreational use. RAMP was founded in 2012 by Bob and Ann Lee. Learn more at

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