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Texas' 'Compassionate Use Act' too limiting, advocates say

Medical marijuana advocates want more patients to have access

SAN ANTONIOThe 85th Legislature could be a very important and prominent year for cannabis law reform. 

Six bills and two joint resolutions have been filed and Senate Bill 339, or the "Compassionate Use Act," goes into effect Sept. 1. 

While the Compassionate Use Act opens the door for the use of medical marijuana in Texas, it still has limitations, according to advocates.

The executive director of SA NORML -- the local brach of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws organization -- Luis Nakamoto said the bill is only for those who have intractable epilepsy. 

“(But) it needs to allow access to patients like our veterans, children with autism, women with breast cancer, patients with HIV or AIDS,” Nakamoto said.

Even if a patient does get diagnosed with intractable epilepsy, there is still other criteria the patient must meet before getting prescribed medical marijuana. 

Another downfall to SB 339, according to advocates, is the amount of THC allowed in the oils. 

RELATED: What is THC?

Retired neuropsychologist Dr. Lang Coleman, a veteran, said SB 339 needs some adjustment. 

“All it allows for is real high CBD and real low THC, and you need a balance of the both,” said Coleman.

RELATED: What is CBD?

Coleman is in the process of building a facility and applying for a license to become a dispensing organization in Texas. He said that dispensary, Alamo CBD, is expected to be running by Sept. 1.

“We will produce CBD oils for those patients (who) are eligible and what we want to do is pharmaceutical research,” Coleman said.

The opening of a dispensing organization presents another limitation. In SB 339, the fees for application are far more expensive that what other states require. In December 2016, the original licensing fees for Texas were subject to a huge increase.

According to the Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy group, the proposed change for an application fee was more than $1 million, but that amount was later amended to $488,000.

“Regardless of what the Legislature does, we intend to pursue this and we will build a facility,” Coleman said. 

Advocates are anticipating that the new proposed legislation, SB 269, by Texas Democratic Sen. Jose Menedez, will ease the restrictions of the Compassionate Use Act.

“The bill that he presented, or amendment per se, will be more inclusive, and that’s what we want here in Texas,” Nakamoto said.


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