May 19, 2015
Yesterday evening, the Texas State House of Representatives approved SB 339 with a vote of 96-34. The bill seeks to allow patients with intractable epilepsy to access cannabis oil containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and only trace levels of THC.
Unfortunately, SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is extremely unlikely to provide patients with relief because it requires doctors to engage in conduct that is prohibited by federal law. SB 339 previously passed the Senate (26-5) on May 7.
SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” marijuana to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions and the risk of losing their DEA registration to prescribe any controlled substances.
The bill also leaves behind Texas patients suffering from debilitating conditions like PTSD, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, for which medical marijuana has been found to have significant medical benefits.
But it isn't all bad. Even if doctors are unwilling to “prescribe” marijuana, starting the implementation process will ensure a system of safe access is ready to go when the legislature meets in 2017 — at which point it can fix the flaw and expand access to patients with other serious conditions.