Although the House has given bipartisan approval, the bill’s chances of becoming law are unclear. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who heads the Senate, publicly opposed a bill to lower the criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. That bill, like Lucio’s medical marijuana legislation, passed with the support of more than 100 House members.
A Patrick spokesman told The Texas Tribune in March that the lieutenant governor is “strongly opposed to weakening any laws against marijuana [and] remains wary of the various medicinal use proposals that could become a vehicle for expanding access to this drug.”
The House on Tuesday also gave initial approval to House Bill 3703, a more limited proposal by Fort Worth Republican Stephanie Klick that would expand the Compassionate Use Act to multiple sclerosis and persistent muscle spasms in addition to epilepsy.
In laying out the bill, Klick, who authored the original bill, said her intent in creating the law in 2015 “was and still is to have a truly medical program that follows the scientific data.”
Klick, a nurse, said she added multiple sclerosis to the acceptable uses for medical marijuana because “the scientific data is fully developed for MS.” Her bill would create a research program under the state’s Health and Human Services Commission to study the use of low-THC medical marijuana.
“We need more data for us to truly know if this medication helps other conditions,” Klick said. “Our state-of-the-art research facilities here in Texas are well-suited to participate in this research.”
Klick’s bill passed the chamber on a voice vote, indicating significant support. It must be approved by the House one more time before it is sent to the Senate. The legislative session ends May 27.