New marijuana bills move out of Texas House to uncertain future in Senate

The vote in the House for House Bill 1365 wasn’t even close, with 121 to 23. 

Rep. Eddie Lucio, who drafted the compassionate use medical cannabis bill admits it wasn’t easy. A few years ago getting a majority vote on the issue was unheard of.

"So, advocacy works, the stakeholders outside of this building made a difference,” said Lucio (D-Brownsville).

HB 1365 identifies several medical conditions, including cancer, autism, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and several neurological conditions ranging from Parkinson’s disease to multiple sclerosis, for the legal use of marijuana products. To win passage Lucio first had to make lawmakers understand his bill was not a “stoner law.”

"And I’m trying to draw that clear distinction, what we are doing here is giving, patients, veterans, kids, terminally ill cancer patients, various groups of folks suffering from Parkinson's and other neurological disorders, giving them access to a medicine that significantly improves their quality of life,” said Lucio.

The next step is finding a co-sponsor in the senate, one possibility being state Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels).

"And I believe that now is a good time to go ahead and expand the population that needs this,” said Campbell.

Campbell is against legalizing marijuana but she does have a cannabidiol or CBD bill pending in committee. Working with Lucio on his proposal could help get the issue moving in the upper chamber.

"Sometimes you don’t get it the first time, but it plants the seed, if you will, coming back the next time and expanding medical cannabis oil use,” said Campbell.

There is one other compassionate use marijuana bill in the House, a fail safe, if HB 1365 fails to move in the Senate. Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) has filed a bill to expand current law as right now the use of CBD oil is only allowed to address a specific form of epilepsy.

"I have taken a science-based approach where we do have good evidence for conditions,” said Klick.

HB 1307 cleared the House Tuesday on a voice vote. Klick says because her bill is not as broad as Lucio's, her legislation may have the best chance of reaching the governor's desk.