On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 339 into law, thus legalizing the medicinal use of low-THC, non-euphoric cannabis oil for the treatment of intractable epileptic seizures. According to The Texas Tribune, Governor Abbott said that the bill offers “healing and hope for children who are afflicted by relentless seizures caused by epilepsy.”
The bill only addresses the use of low-THC cannabidiol, also called CBD oil. As he signed the legislation, Governor Abbott specifically noted that he does not support the legalization of higher-THC marijuana for recreational or medical use and said, “I remain convinced that Texas should not legalize marijuana, nor should Texas open the door for conventional marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes. As governor, I will not allow it; SB 339 does not open the door to marijuana in Texas.”
KVUE-TV notes that the law requires patients to obtain approval from two different specialists in order to seek treatment with cannabis oil. The Texas Department of Public Safety will be charged with regulating cannabis oil manufacturers and dispensaries and must license at least three dispensaries by September 1, 2017, assuming that there are a sufficient number of qualified applicants by that time. Only neurologists and epileptologists will be allowed to prescribe cannabis oil under Texas law. Truth in Media’s Rachel Blevins noted that requiring doctors to prescribe (rather than recommend) the federally-illegal medication may put them at risk of federal prosecution. SB 339 limits cannabis oil potency to a THC ratio of 20 to 1.
According to KXAN-TV, Governor Abbott issued a statement on the legislation, which read, “There is currently no cure for intractable epilepsy and many patients have had little to no success with currently approved drugs. However, we have seen promising results from CBD oil testing and with the passage of this legislation, there is now hope for thousands of families who deal with the effects of intractable epilepsy every day.”
A statement by Marijuana Policy Project’s Texas political director Heather Fazio read, “While this program leaves most patients behind and we’re concerned about its functionality, today is one for the history books. The Texas Legislature is sending a resounding message: Marijuana is medicine.”
In September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode exposing the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the embedded video player, found below.