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Senate Passes Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill, Setting Its Course To Governor's Desk

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The Texas Senate unanimously passed legislation expanding theTexas Compassionate Use Program on Wednesday. The legislation is expected to become law, enabling more patients to purchase marijuana-derived CBD oil in Texas.

Currently, only Texans with intractable epilepsy may receive marijuana-derived CBD oil from one of three state-sanctioned dispensaries.

The bill sponsored by New Braunfels Republican Donna Campbell expands the range of medical conditions where CBD has been shown to improve a patient’s quality of life.

The conditions include any form of epilepsy and muscle spasticity as well as terminal cancer, any form of neurodegenerative disease, autism, Lou Gehrig’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

“While we don’t have great data to support the use of medical cannabis, we’ve got enough anecdotal and white-paper research to show that it helps with some limited diagnoses,” Campbell said.

San Antonio Democrat Jose Menendez supported the bill. His wife has multiple sclerosis.

"She’s had very good success with cannabis-derived products and not had to take narcotics, and therefore I know it works,” he said.

But not everyone was gung ho about expanding the program, which caps psychoactive THC levels at 0.5%.

McLennan County Republican Brian Birdwell worried how the program and CBD itself could become the next opioid crisis.

“What I don’t want to see is either CBD be the bridge to full recreational usage," he said. "I also don’t want to see it become the next opioid crisis.”

The bill traveled a long legislative road alongside similar bills in the House during this session.

House lawmakers will examine the bill one more time before the governor, as expected, signs it into law.

Ryan Poppe can be reached at RPoppe@TPR.org and on Twitter at @RyanPoppe1.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.