In the waning days of the 2017 Texas Legislature, a medical marijuana bill continues to burn. This week, the state House Committee on Public Health held a hearing on House Bill 2107, which would expand on the 2015 law that legalized small amounts of cannabis oil for medical use in Texas. This bill would increase the number of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana, and expand the number of options of medical cannabis available to patients.
Advocates for HB 2107 say the 2015 bill was a good start, but does not go far enough. "House Bill 2107 seeks to make (the 2015 law) more inclusive for patients with debilitating medical conditions like cancer, PTSD and chronic pain," says Heather Fazio with Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. She tells KTRH that expanding access to medical marijuana is especially important for Texas veterans. "They've come back with service-related injuries...and cannabis is proven to be safe and effective for many of those conditions," says Fazio. "Our Texas veterans and patients in our state should have the freedom to use this medicine if a doctor thinks that it's appropriate."
HB 2107 is facing an uphill battle. In order to even survive this session, it must pass out of committee by Monday May 8 and out of the full House by Thursday May 11. And if it clears those hurdles it faces even more uncertainty in the Senate and with Gov. Greg Abbott, who said upon signing the 2015 bill that he would not expand medical marijuana use any further.
Nevertheless, recent polls show growing support for legalized pot among Texans, and Fazio has seen that reflected in those backing HB 2107. "We're seeing professionals coming forward, we're seeing conservatives, talking about this issue in a real way...talking about how these policies are failing our families and failing our communities," she says.