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Legislation that would allow more Texans to qualify for medical marijuana under the Compassionate Use Program overwhelmingly passed in the Texas House on Wednesday by a vote of 127-19.

The legislation authored by Fort Worth Republican State Representative Stephanie Klick expands the list of medical conditions that would fall into the Compassionate Use Program. It would include patients who suffer from chronic pain and according to reports it would increase the amount of THC that is allowed.

The Compassionate Use Program was passed by the Texas Legislature in 2015 but has been a target of criticism for being too restrictive and not allowing enough people to take advantage of medical marijuana. The program has expanded since 2015 and in 2021 the legislature expanded the program to include PTSD and cancer.

Klick's bill would expand the program once again by allowing all with chronic pain to access medical marijuana. And while the legislation said through the House, the more conservative Texas Senate may be a different story. In the last legislative session the Senate changed the House Bill on THC levels from 5% to 1%. Klick's bill this session would raise THC levels from 1% to 10%.

But there is another major issue with the Compassionate Use Program. The lack of dispensaries in Texas. As the Dallas Morning News reports, there are just three in the entire state. All in central Texas.

In January, DPS announced it was opening the application process up to potentially add more dispensaries. Only three dispensaries have been licensed in Texas in the past three years.

The application window runs until April 28. The agency, however, will not make a decision to approve any application until after the session concludes, in case the Legislature passes bills that expand the program.

The three dispensaries now open are all in central Texas, with two in Austin and one in Schulenberg, about 100 miles west of San Antonio. With long drive times for many Texans to the dispensaries that only can provide cannabidiol that is low in THC, some advocates are frustrated that there is not enough supply to meet demand.

While there is little to no chance of recreational marijuana passing in the Texas Legislature anytime soon, expanding medical marijuana and making sure the people who need it, get it should be passed and expanded in Texas.

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