Two legislative bills to legalize cannabis-based oil for epileptics passed out of their respective Texas Senate and House committees Monday.
Senate Bill 339 or Texas Compassionate Use Act, authored by Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, would allow the use of cannabidiol heavy oils (CBD), which have been effective for patients suffering with extreme epileptic conditions. The bill passed out of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services 8-1.
House Bill 892, a companion bill, was approved by the House's Public Health Committee by an 8-1 vote as well.
Intractable epilepsy afflicts an estimated 149,000 people in Texas. Patients with intractable epilepsy can suffer hundreds of severe seizures each week. Intractable epileptics are at a higher risk for a shortened life span, excessive bodily injury, neurophyscological and mental health impairment and social disability.
Marcy Bingham, a nurse from Troup who has an 8-year-old son who suffers from Dravet syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes degenerative intractable seizures, said families of suffering children are excited to see the bills take a step forward.
Mrs. Bingham and her husband face moving to states where CBD oils are legal if the bill does not pass.
"It's a big step forward," she said. "It would mean so much to me and these other families if it becomes law and gives us access to medicine that will improve our children's quality of life."
Eltife said he is attempting to wrangle a vote on the Senate floor later this week.
There are concerns, however, that Gov. Greg Abbott might veto any bill that decriminalizes marijuana.
The Texas Medical Association has opposed the bill but supports more testing for medicinal uses of marijuana. The Texas Sheriff's Association has opposed any legislation to decriminalize or legalize marijuana in any form and for any use.