Although Texas has a medical marijuana program, its past rules didn’t look so different from the laws the US has for hemp-derived CBD products. THC content was capped at 0.5%, and only CBD products were available. This has changed a little bit now, as House Bill 1535 (HB 1535) increased the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) limit by 0.5%, meaning the new limit is now a whopping 1%! Cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were also added as qualifying conditions, but chronic pain was rejected. Whilst this is less-than-ideal, it is still an improvement over the previous limits. There is still no medical marijuana card system in Texas.
The Texas Medical Marijuana Program is Still One of the Most Restrictive in the US
Even though HB 1535 increases THC limits and the number of qualifying conditions, it is still a watered-down version of the original bill. The original proposals to change the Texas Compassionate Use Program included:
- An increased cap of 5% THC
- The inclusion of chronic pain as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana
Unfortunately, these changes were rejected. So, even though there have been some changes for the better, many positive ones are yet to materialize. This is unfortunate for many patients, who are sorely in need of a more comprehensive medical program that allows them to get a hold of the products and cannabinoid ratios they need for their condition.
What Does This Mean for Medical Marijuana Patients in Texas?
There are about 2 million people in Texas who would be eligible to qualify for the Compassionate Use Program, but there are fewer than 6,000 Texans who have actually enrolled. There are a few good reasons for this, including:
- Many may feel uncomfortable or even pointless to register to the Compassionate Use Program in the first place when the criteria is so restrictive.
- Further to point 1 above, patients who need products containing higher amounts of THC will not be willing to sign up for the state medical marijuana program. Those who are already purchasing from the black market are likely to continue to do so.
- The lack of appropriate qualifying conditions may make people think they do not otherwise qualify.
So, whilst accessibility has increased somewhat, for most patients in Texas it’s a very limited improvement.
Medical Cannabis in Texas: Overall
Compared to states like Alabama, Arkansas, Virginia, Louisiana or even Georgia (which have problems of their own), Texas’s pace of reform is moving at a snail’s pace. However, even though Texas’ MMJ program is inching forward so slowly, it is still moving forward. And,compared to states like Idaho, Kansas or Kentucky, which have very strict, CBD-only medical cannabis programs.
There is also the fact that Texas is a large state with the second-highest population in the US. This means that, regardless of the state’s politicians’ own misgivings about medical cannabis, if there’s enough pressure for the program to change and accommodate all of the patients who benefit from medical cannabis, it likely will change – eventually.