UPDATE: The bill was signed on June 1, 2015.
Despite the restrictive nature of the bill, it appears as though Texas is about to officially legalize medical marijuana. A statement released over the weekend by Governor Greg Abbott indicates that he will sign into law a bill that will allow patients suffering from epilepsy and other chronic conditions to have access to non-intoxicating cannabis oil.
The Texas Tribune reports that Governor Abbott is planning to hold a signing ceremony on Monday for Senate Bill 339, which will legalize the distribution and use of “low-THC” high CBD oil for patients suffering from specific conditions.
The signing of this bill, however, will not be the wherewithal for patients suffering from a variety of ailments across the state, it will merely allow physicians to “prescribe” the herb primarily to epilepsy patients.
Unfortunately, while marijuana advocates are encouraged by the Governor’s decision to sign this bill into law, they claim its passage will do nothing to actually help patients because the language of the bill proves too risky for the healthcare community.
The Marijuana Policy Project’s Heath Fazio told CBS News last month that even if SB 339 becomes law, it would be impossible for patients to get their hands on the medicine because the language requires doctors to “prescribe” rather than offer recommendations. She suggested that no physician in his right mind would dare write a prescription for cannabis oil since federal law prohibits such practices.
Nevertheless, this tits-on-a-boar legislation is poised to become the first bill in the history of the state of Texas aimed at reforming the laws against the cannabis plant – a bold feat that pot supporters believe could be a good starting point towards creating a more comprehensive approach to medical marijuana in the near future.
Once the bill is signed, the Texas Department of Public Safety will have until September 2017 to license at least three dispensaries that will provide cannabis oil for qualified patients.