Texas Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill Moves Forward In Senate After Initially Stalling

MJ moment

The lieutenant governor, who opposes cannabis reform, decides the fate of legislation in the Senate. By Shawn Mulcahy, The Texas Tribune With less than two weeks left in Texas’ legislative session, an effort to expand the state’s medical marijuana program gained new life on Thursday after weeks of outcry from advocates who said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) was blocking the proposal. The Texas House voted 134-12 last month to send House Bill 1535 to the state Senate, where it languished in a legislative purgatory for more than two weeks. Patrick on Thursday referred the proposal to the Senate State Affairs Committee. But the bill still faces significant hurdles. It must advance out of committee and receive approval from the full Senate by Wednesday, the last day the Senate can take up bills. House Bill 1535, by state Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, would expand the state’s medical cannabis program to include those with chronic pain, all cancer patients and Texans with post-traumatic stress disorder. It would also authorize the Department of State Health Services to add additional qualifying conditions through administrative rulemaking. Current law requires the Legislature to pass a bill to expand eligibility. Patrick, who leads the Senate, has the final say on which bills are considered and to which committees they’ll be referred. His office did not respond to a request for comment. “It’s difficult to come up with any explanation that makes sense as to why the lieutenant governor would block this legislation,” said Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. She added that the legislation is a “carefully crafted and moderate expansion” with wide bipartisan backing. Fazio said state Sens. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, and Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, who are both doctors, have voiced support for HB 1535. Spokespeople for Schwertner and Campbell…

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