More Texans may soon be able to use medical cannabis — CBD oil — legally

A plan to let more Texans use medical cannabis in the form of CBD oil advanced in the Senate Wednesday, with less than a week left in the legislative session.

Fort Worth Republican state Rep. Stephanie Klick had proposed letting Texans with multiple sclerosis, spasticity and any form of epilepsy use the oil, which comes from the hemp plant, which is related to the marijuana plant.

The Senate, under New Braunfels Republican Donna Campbell, took that plan and expanded it even more, adding seizure disorders, terminal cancer, autism and ALS as other conditions that should merit the use of the oil.

That still isn’t enough for some.

“We are grateful for Sen. Donna Campbell’s leadership and the expanded access this bill offers,” said Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. “But so many patients are still being left behind.”

The measure still needs final approval from the House before being sent to Gov. Greg Abbott for consideration.

State lawmakers have until May 27 to pass new laws. The governor has until June 16 to sign or veto measures or they automatically become law.

Compassionate Use Act

In 2015, under the guidance of Klick, a former nurse, the Legislature passed the Compassionate Use Act, which made cannabis oil legal for Texans with intractable epilepsy.

Several plans were filed this year to expand the conditions included in the act.

Klick’s House Bill 3703 moved forward and was expanded Wednesday.

“The Texas Senate unanimously passed #HB3703 expanding patient access to medical cannabis oil!” Campbell tweeted Wednesday. “Thank you @StephanieKlick for leading on this issue! This is about compassion and helping Texans with a family member who can benefit from this medicine.”

More than 30 states allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

CBD extract doesn’t contain THC, which helps patients receive the benefit without the high, lawmakers say.

Hemp bill

Klick’s bill does not address the CBD stores that have been opening across the state, even though some law enforcers — who maintain CBD oil sales are only legal with a prescription — have asked the Legislature for clarity.

Law enforcers say CBD oil is illegal in Texas, except for when legally prescribed. Some disagree, saying the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized industrial hemp, makes it legal to buy and use the oil. And North Texans do that online and through a variety of stores.

The Legislature has passed a separate bill, HB 1325, letting Texas farmers legally grow industrial hemp. This bill would take hemp off the state’s controlled substance list and, it is believed, legalize hemp and extracts such as CBD oil, if they don’t contain more than 0.3 percent THC. The bill needs final approval from the House before being sent to the governor fro consideration.

Duncanville police earlier this year raided at least two smoke shops, seizing “hundreds of pounds of CBD oil” and other items.

The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office has said CBD oil is only legal under the 2015 Compassionate Use Act, which made cannabis oil legal for Texans with intractable epilepsy. Others buying or selling CBD oil are breaking the law, District Attorney Sharen Wilson has said.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.