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New Medical Marijuana Act Comes into Force Expanding Access to Cancer Patients and Texans with PTSD – Houston Public Media


On September 1, 2021, new medical marijuana rules came into effect in Texas.

Thousands more Texans can now be prescribed medical cannabis oil with low THC, the ingredient that gets people high.

House Bill 1535, which went into effect Wednesday, extends the state’s compassionate use program to people with all types of cancer and to people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The law also doubled the THC limit allowed under the program from 0.5% to 1%. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the ingredient in marijuana that can have a psychological effect.

It’s another extension of the state’s medical cannabis law, created in 2015. Nevertheless, the state program remains one of the most restrictive in the country.

Although an overwhelming majority of Texans believe that marijuana should be legal in any form, the ultimate decision as to who can access it rests with the state’s elected leaders.

And while HB 1535 increases THC levels and increases the number of people who qualify for the program, the legislature has again decided to only move the program forward in small steps.

Fort Worth State Bill, Stephanie Klick, presented in March called for cannabis oil to be made available only to some patients with PTSD, especially veterans. But many who testified on the Texas Capitol bill, including veterans, said eligibility should be extended to anyone involved with the condition.

That was the same logic behind the move to include all cancers.

“It’s questionable that any form of cancer can be fatal, isn’t it? So it felt like a very arbitrary description,” said Jax Finkel, executive director of Texas NORML, a national organization that works to legalize marijuana .

She said that people dealing with the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy shouldn’t have to worry if their battle with cancer is bad enough to warrant medical help from cannabis oil.

Although the increase in THC levels is small, Finkel said, it will allow cannabis oil manufacturers to better serve their patients.

When the bill was introduced, many hoped that the THC limit would rise even further, to a maximum of 5%.

That would have increased the limit tenfold. Still, some of the Texans who testified that they already self-medicate with illegal marijuana said it was too low.

Legislators in the House of Representatives approved the 5% THC limit, but the Senate lowered it to just 1%.

The House version also contained additional medical conditions. One of the most talked about things was anything that causes acute or chronic pain that a doctor would otherwise prescribe opioids for.

Several Texans testified about their struggles with opioids over the years, boasting the benefits medicinal marijuana had brought to their lives. But the Senate ultimately lifted that provision.

“Texans support a robust and inclusive medical cannabis program that enables doctors and patients to make decisions about their treatment and formulations,” said Finkel. “But if we look at the legislature, they are only there every two years. So all patients who are not admitted have to languish for two years.”

Despite the fact that around 85% of Texans believe marijuana should be legal, both medicinally and recreationally, lawmakers have chosen to go slowly. And the program will only grow as much as the legislature allows.

“I think there are some simple things you can do in the next session to put power in the hands of doctors and patients,” said Finkel. “This allows the Department of State Health Services to approve petitions, add new conditions, evaluate them, and add them regularly. So that they can deal with the dosage, because these are the doctors. “

Allowing the DSHS to assess medical conditions and put them on the state’s medical marijuana registry is not such a radical idea. In fact, it was something that was in the version of the bill that the House passed.

But the Senate finally decided to delete this provision as well.

Do you have a tip? Email Jerry Quijano at jerry@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @jerryquijano.

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Copyright 2021 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

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