Governor Greg Abbott signed a medical cannabis bill on June 15 that will soon improve the state’s approach to medical cannabis access.
“Veterans could qualify for medical marijuana under new law. I will sign it.” Gov. Abbott confidently wrote on Twitter just days before he officially signed off on the bill. House Bill 1535 expands treatment to those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or any form of cancer (previously it was limited to only those who were diagnosed with terminal cancer). The bill will allow patients access to medical cannabis if they participate in research studies, and will allow regulated medical cannabis products to include an increased amount in THC—all starting on September 1.
On the topic of post-traumatic stress disorder, former Navy SEAL and current leader of the Veterans Cannabis Project, Nick Etten, expressed his approval of the state’s movement toward increased medical cannabis access. “This new law is an important step forward for veterans, cancer patients and many other Texans,” said Etten. “Moving forward, we will continue to work with lawmakers in future legislative sessions to build on this law, develop a broader approach towards medical cannabis, and make sure it is a truly effective medical tool for the veterans who gave so much for our country.”
HB-1535 encountered its fair share of changes between the upper and lower chambers of the Texas House during the legislative process. Initially, the bill also included chronic or acute pain as qualifying conditions, as well as allowing the state health department to approve more conditions in the future. “As a pharmacist and as a physician, I feel strongly that our limited medical program, with appropriate rules and oversight, is the right path for patients in Texas seeking symptom relief,” said Senate sponsor Charles Schwertner regarding the removed provisions.According to the Texas Tribune, only 6,000 Texans have been approved for the state’s Compassionate Use Program, but the signing of HB-1535 is sure to bring more patients into the fold.