The expansion of the Texas medical marijuana program is a sign that red state politicians understand the public’s shifting attitudes on marijuana. It’s also a big step for cancer and PTSD patients in the country’s second largest state.
Starting in September 2021, state residents can enter the Texas medical marijuana program if they have cancer. The previous law allowed only those with terminal cancer to use low-THC medical marijuana. Also, the state expanded the program to include PTSD patients who want to use weed to treat their symptoms (PTSD is an acronym for post-traumatic stress disorder).
The state also raised the allowed amount of THC in medical cannabis products such as oils and creams from .5 percent to 1 percent.
While incremental, it’s a move worth noting because of the conservative political climate in Texas as well as the fact that the state has 29.1 million residents, behind only California in population. Decisions in Texas sometimes set the trend for other red states.
A New Way to Help PTSD Patients
A Texas medical marijuana clinic in Houston provides an example of how the law change might help PTSD patients. The owners of the CannaMedRx, including Dr. Francisco Daniel Medrano, told Houston NBC affiliate KPRC that the first patient they scheduled to see after the new law went into effect was an Iraq war veteran.
“We’re just excited to be able to help Texans, particularly with the PTSD and our veterans,” Medrano, who is co-owner and medical director of the clinic, told NBC. “We have a receptionist that answers our calls and there’s been many, many more that are calling just specifically for PTSD.”
Clinic co-founder Melissa Trevino noted that expansion of the program is a “game-changer” for all PTSD patients. Although associated most often with war veterans, PTSD also can impact victims of natural disasters, serious vehicle accidents, terrorist acts and rape. PTSD patients include both those who experienced a traumatic event and those who have witnessed such an event.
The Future of Texas Medical Marijuana
While it might seem a small victory in states with recreational marijuana fully legalized, the change in Texas represented a victory for marijuana advocates in the Lone Star State. They now hope to expand the list of those eligible for the program even further.
In addition to cancer and PTSD patients, the current list of those eligible for the Texas medical marijuana program includes those with epilepsy, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism and an incurable neurodegenerative disease. However, the original bill to expand the law, filed by Republican Rep. Stephanie Klick of Fort Worth, included allowing marijuana to treat chronic pain, one of its most popular uses and something Texas cannabis advocates still want added to the list.
They also may want to try to further raise the amount of THC allowed. Klick’s original bill called for raising the levels to 5 percent. Even that level would be far below what other states allow. Many states have no cap, and one that does – Vermont – has a 10 percent level for cannabis flower and a 60 percent level for concentrates.