With the approval of medical marijuana expansion legislation, all eyes are on the state of Texas.
The state was renowned for having one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs compared to other US states. But on September 1, 2021, the restrictions eased a bit with Texas Governor Greg Abbott signing the Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill.
The bill paved the way for a number of changes within the already established framework Texas Compassionate Use Program (T.UPC). From the approval of more medical conditions for the use of medical cannabis to the authorization of products with higher concentrations of THC, let’s review the changes you can expect for the use of medical marijuana in Texas 2021 .
Texas Medical Marijuana Program: A Quick Overview
The Texas Medical Marijuana Program is very different from programs established by other states. For starters, there is no concept of a “medical marijuana card” or “recommendation” in Texas. The state does not require you to bring a physical document to a dispensary to purchase cannabis.
Instead, the program has set up an online monitoring system called the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (DRY). It is a system shared between doctors and clinics. Once a patient is deemed qualified, the physician enters a “prescription” into CURT, which can then be viewed by the dispensary.
Texas also allows low-THC cannabis only for medical use by people with specific medical conditions only.
Now, given the progressive attitude of states neighboring Texas, going ahead with such restrictive measures didn’t seem right. This led to a series of bills being sent to the Senate for approval. While some were rejected, others were approved and turned into new law leaving Texas ultimately aligned with other US states.
Changes to the Texas Compassionate Use Program
The expansion law, which went into effect Sept. 1, 2021, was intended to align with progressive laws in other states and make cannabis a more accessible form of medicine for Texans.
Although a small step, the expansion of the Compassionate Use Act will greatly benefit the citizens of Texas. Let’s take a look at the significant changes that went into effect this year.
PTSD and cancer added to list
When the Texas Compassionate Use Act was established in 2015, the list of medical conditions eligible for medical cannabis use was limited to one condition: incurable epilepsy. This made the law very restrictive and cannabis a very accessible form of medicine.
Over the years the list has grown and today it officially includes PTSD and cancer. Thus, the updated list of eligible medical conditions for medical prescription marijuana in Texas is as follows:
- Refractory epilepsy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Incurable neurological disorders (Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s or Parkinson’s)
The bill submitted for approval specified PTSD for veterans and terminal cancer patients only. However, this exclusivity faced backlash from those who testified about the bill, including veterans. Therefore, the approved bill authorizes the use of medical cannabis for cancer and PTSD patients at all stages.
Chronic pain was also initially included in the bill. But the Senate deleted it and it was never added back for later approval. But, the addition of two new medical conditions is a start for now. And that paves the way for more additions in the future.
Percentage of Low-THC Cannabis
Medical cannabis is only allowed in Texas if it is a low-THC type. Since the T.CUP was approved, it was pretty clear that all MMJ patients could only use low THC products with less than 0.5% THC and at least 10% CBD.
But here’s the thing: THC is just as therapeutic as CBD. Some debilitating conditions on the list also require a large amount of THC. That is why the law is now extended and the percentage of THC is doubled from 0.5% to 1%.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, low-THC cannabis refers to-
“… the plant Cannabis sativa L., and any part of this plant or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, preparation, resin or oil of this plant which does not contain more than 1.0% by weight of tetrahydrocannabinols.”
In addition, the percentage of CBD should not be less than 10%.
Given the effectiveness of high-THC cannabis, the bill originally called for the percentage to be increased from 0.5% to 5%. However, once discussion in the Senate began, it was watered down to 1%.
Starting today, all qualified medical cannabis patients in the state of Texas can purchase and use low-THC cannabis with no more than 1% THC and no less than 10% CBD. All patients should purchase cannabis only from a licensed dispensing authority.
How does the expansion law benefit Texans?
It is quite clear that the expansion of the compassionate use program provides benefits to citizens. Although medical cannabis was legalized in Texas in 2015, it was still not accessible to the majority of patients seeking a herbal health solution. Additionally, the accessible form of cannabis was also not strong enough to benefit debilitating conditions.
But now it’s clear that Texas is moving toward a progressive attitude and becoming more welcoming to the medical potential of the herb. Each of the new additions is a small step, but in the direction of the front. Besides providing stronger types of cannabis, it is also more accessible to medical patients now.
Going forward, Texans can expect new laws and changes to the CUP. Several bills were rejected or not commented on this time in the Senate. This includes reform to allow study of the therapeutic potential of psychedelics and decriminalization of possession of small amounts of the herb, among other submissions.
So, if you are planning to be a medical marijuana patient in Texas, now is the best time. Request a consultation today and get your approval the same day. Your prescription will be entered into the CURT so you can visit a dispensary near you and get yours filled today.
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