Texas OKs Medical Cannabis For PTSD, All Cancers And Gives Small Bump To Legal THC Levels. More Expansive Pot Proposals Went Up In Smoke.
Texas will expand access to medical cannabis for individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder and any form of cancer — not just those that are terminal — starting Sept. 1.
While advocates are still chalking it up as a win for a state with one of the most restrictive medical cannabis programs in the U.S., the bill that was signed into law by Gov. Abbott was ultimately stripped of its biggest changes during the legislative process.
Multiple other marijuana-related bills didn’t make it through the session at all.
Lawmakers first passed the state's Compassionate Use Act in 2015 for people with intractable epilepsy and expanded the program to cover terminal cancer and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in 2019.
Texas is one of 11 states with a low-THC program. This year's changes also include a slight increase to the cap for the level of allowable THC in medicinal products, from 0.5% up to 1%. The House's version would have increased the legal limit to 5%.
What are the details of the new law? In what ways was it scaled back by the Texas Senate, after initial passage through the House, and why?
What are the implications of this expansion for both veterans and civilians coping with cancer and PTSD? What does the latest medical research say about using medical cannabis to treat these conditions?
What are the biggest challenges related to implementation and regulation of the new law? What are the program's requirements and limitations?
How does someone qualify for Texas' medical cannabis program and get a prescription? Will medical marijuana be covered by health insurance if treatment is physician-prescribed and legal under state law?
Where does Texas stand now in comparison to other states when it comes to marijuana-related laws and policies — medicinal or otherwise?
What is the likelihood of even more expansion of the medicinal program — such as for people with chronic pain and other conditions that could benefit from cannabis therapies — in the state's next legislative session? Could decriminalization or legalization ever be on the table in Texas?
- Dr. Bryon Adinoff, MD, addiction psychiatrist and executive vice president of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation
- Heather Fazio, director of advocacy group Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy
- Viridiana Edwards, U.S. Army veteran, drug policy expert with the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, veteran advisor for Texas NORML and leader of operations for Texas Veterans for Medical Marijuana
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*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, June 23.