The 2019 Legislative session for the state of Texas is about to start, and when it does, 12 bills among the pre-filed selections will focus on marijuana legalization for medical use. Of those bills, the two which hold primary focus are SB90 and HB209.

SB90 would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana as they do any other drug useful for treatment of an illness or for pain management assistance. Meanwhile, HB209 is related to legalization of medical marijuana and the use of homegrown marijuana for medical treatments.

Texas remains one of the few holdout states, when 33 others have legalized some form of marijuana. Federal law still categorizes the drug as a Schedule 1, but with the legalization of hemp with the 2018 Farm Bill, marijuana advocates are hopeful that the tides are changing related to federal classifications and related prohibition as well.

Various patients who live in Texas are hopeful that the bills will pass, if only to allow them easier access to a drug treatment option that has proven very effective for issues from anxiety to chronic pain.

Efforts to legalize marijuana for medical treatment made a major step forward in 2015 when a bill sponsored by former nurse and State Rep. Stephanie Klick passed the House on a vote of 108-38. The bill permits products with high levels of CBD and low levels of THC to be used, primarily by residents who have epilepsy and are not responding to other legal forms of medical treatment.

This treatment will be beneficial for only a percentage of the 160,000 people who live in Texas and have been diagnosed with intractable epilepsy — those who have tried two other FDA-approved drugs and not received adequate relief and satisfactory results. The state has three licensed dispensaries that are growing and selling products to these patients.

2019 will be the first year voting on other marijuana-related bills will take place since those dispensaries began operating.

While marijuana advocacy is strong in Texas, so is the opposition — a big factor in why legislation for broader use of marijuana medically has not come to pass. Concerns related to the health and well-being of state residents is a big part of the holdup for those who oppose marijuana legislation in Texas. This includes some of the politicians in office and also the Sheriff’s Association of Texas, which maintains that the social costs of the drug far outweigh any potential gain from legalization for medical use.

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