Less than 600 patients granted medical cannabis under Texas’ tight regulations

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Patients who require medical cannabis in Texas are in for some bad news.

A shortage in supply means that less than 600 of a projected 150,000 Texans who suffer from debilitating epileptic seizures will be prescribed a cannabis oil containing low amounts of the psychoactive compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

This is due to the Texas state’s restrictive medical cannabis program.

At the current time, a limited number of doctors have signed up to prescribe patients with the non-psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant. According to a report from the San Antonio Express-News, this news comes almost one year since the first ever cannabis plants were sowed in Texas legally.

Named the “Texas Compassionate Use Act,” the state’s medical cannabis program only allows patients to use low-THC medicines containing CBD.

Law for medical cannabis in Texas took effect in 2015

It might have gone into effect a while back, but Texas’ cannabis law has been extremely slow in its execution strategy. A mere three companies in the central Texas area have so far been awarded licensing to distribute cannabis to their patients. One company has not yet opened due to its minuscule customer base and low income.

State lawmakers in Texas are urging for proposals that would relax restrictions on THC, which would essentially provide more patients with access to the plant. Those people may require medication as a treatment for various life-impacting medical conditions, such as cancer, appetite problems, nausea, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to name a few.

Texas House keen to expand medical cannabis use

 The Texas House has been supportive of expanding medical cannabis use, but changes in the law have been resisted by state Senate and Gov. Greg Abbott.

“This is not a liberal or conservative issue, this is a medical issue,” said Democratic state Sen. Jose Menendez.

Menendez made an effort to help more patients gain access to medical cannabis in Texas after he filed a program expansion bill that would cover 20 additional conditions and permit doctors to prescribe cannabis-based medicines with higher THC levels.

“Why do we as a Legislature get to think we know better than the doctors? Why are we limiting this and keeping people that have glaucoma, MS, cancer, from having access?” he said.

In January, the legislative session will commence, during which time several cannabis-associated proposals will be put before legislators. Approximately 45 doctors have already signed up to prescribe patients with CBD-rich medical cannabis in Texas, with the vast majority being located in urban areas.

“The way to assure the Compassionate Use Program has a future is by expanding access to more patients,” said the CEO of Austin-based Compassionate Cultivation, Morris Denton. “The worst thing that can happen is nothing gets done because then we set the program back.”