Texas' very stringent medical marijuana law only permits the use of cannabidiol for epilepsy patients whose seizures can't be controlled by traditional medications. Pictured: A mixture of extracted hemp CBD and coconut oil is added to capsules at Longmont's CBDRx organic hemp farm on Nov. 19, 2015. (Kira Horvath, Daily Camera)

When it comes to pot reform, Texas lawmakers know their market

Legislators shoot for expanding existing Compassionate Use Act versus widespread marijuana legalization

AUSTIN, Texas — Some Texas legislators would like to see more allowable uses for medical marijuana by expanding a law approved in 2015.

The law lets patients with a rare form of epilepsy be legally treated with cannabidiol, or CBD, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has not yet completed the process to permit CBD businesses to get up and running. The first permits are scheduled to be granted in June 2017, the newspaper reported.

Sen. José Menéndez, of San Antonio, failed to get a broad medical marijuana bill approved in 2015. He said he’d support any expansion of the current law for therapeutic uses.

CBD is one of dozens of compounds found in the marijuana plant, but unlike its cousin tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, cannabidiol does not produce a high or sense of euphoria.

Rep. Jason Isaac, of Dripping Springs, expressed hope that legislators who convene in January will continue expanding cannabis-related medical treatments.

“We need to expand compassionate uses,” Isaac said. “We need to give people more freedom.”

Gov. Greg Abbott, when he signed the current law, reaffirmed keeping marijuana illegal in Texas but allowing CBD use in narrow circumstances.

“SB 339 does not open the door to marijuana in Texas. The very low level of THC in CBD oil does not, even if taken in large doses, give the user a high and has no street value,” Abbott said at the time. “There is no recreational use for CBD oil. It will, however, provide healing and hope for children who are afflicted by unrelenting seizures caused by epilepsy.”

Menéndez predicted that any bills calling for expanded use of CBD will have a much better chance of passing than wide-reaching medical marijuana legislation, especially in a conservative Legislature like Texas.

“But that doesn’t mean I won’t try,” Menendez said.

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman