Texas—an extremely conservative state with a population upwards of 29 million is slowly making medical cannabis legalization changes. How so, exactly?
For starters, the Texas Compassionate Use Act was enacted by the Texas Legislature in 2015. Then, as of December 15thof 2017, only three vertically integrated dispensing organization licenses have been approved. Since 2015, unfortunately, no additional dispensary licenses have been granted. Although cannabis remains federally illegal in the U.S., industrial hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) is widely sought after and sold throughout Texas whether different wholesaler, headshop or clinic owners have state licenses or not.
The sale of hemp-derived CBD oil at various storefronts has prompted confusion among Texans because many of these stores have been raided, shut down or faced other consequences thus leading to purchasing hesitance by Texans. Generally, CBD oil is easily attainable in Texas, and hemp-derived CBD is technically legal. However, the retail sale of CBD has been operating in a gray zone with many authority figures disagreeing over its lawfulness. Will this change by next year, and if so, in which ways?
Texas’s Restrictive Medical Cannabis Program & Lack of Expansion
In the U.S., the Texas Compassionate Use Act (TCUA) is the most restrictive medical cannabis program. Although TCUA has been in place since 2015, little progress has been made since then. The only people who can receive a doctor’s recommendation and prescription for medical cannabis are intractable epileptic individuals. Despite Texas’ medical cannabis program having the capability to help well over 100,000 epileptic individuals, only about 574 epileptic patients have received prescriptions for this medicine.
Governor Abbott’s Effort to Improve TCUA
To get more doctors involved in this slowly evolving medical cannabis program, various billsare in the works that’ll likely change the way cannabis is viewed and treated in Texas if approved by state legislature.
Below are some bills that have gained significant momentum after Governor Abbott’s efforts:
–House Bill 63: Decriminalization of cannabis possession
–Senate Bill 90: Add veteran’s care of PTSD and pain to TCUA
–Senate Bill 90: Expand TCUA to full medical beyond intractable epilepsy
–Senate Bill 90: Give doctors and caregivers more leeway in recognizing conditions that may help without jeopardizing medical licenses
Although none of these bills have passed yet, several people including Patrick Thomas Moran, founding board member of TCIA (Texas Cannabis Industry Association) and entrepreneur believes significant changes will come in 2019 if cannabis advocates work together. He expressed what must be done to enact progressive changes to the TCUA by 2019:
“If we want an effective Texas medical cannabis program voted into law in 2019 (for which legislation already exists) state elected politicians must be placed under ‘do or politically-die’ pressure. Simultaneously, we must back those candidates who support the patients and the emerging industry’s righteous efforts to help them.”
Furthermore, Shaun McAlister, executive director of DFW NORML shared his thoughts about how to improve the TCUA. “The laws need to change before the market can grow in a more meaningful way, which is why it’s so very important for people interested in the business side of Texas cannabis to be investing in grassroots efforts to end prohibition right now.”
Where to Buy CBD in Texas
Despite necessary changes that should be made to the TCUA, hemp-derived CBD is readily available at numerous head shops, wellness centers/clinics, doctor’s offices, chiropractor’s offices, aesthetician’s offices, vitamin stores and CBD-only storefronts in Texas. However, there has been no clear-cut legal basis upon which establishments to prosecute. It’s clear that there’s an increasing demand for cannabis and CBD in Texas.
Peter Ricca, Texas entrepreneur, investor, and director of various cannabis companies expressed how important it is to prioritize patients’ needs by saying, “An official medical program would have tremendous benefits. To further improve, make it a patient choice, not a doctor choice.”
Although there have been several raids in the past leaving some Texans facing significant jail time for possessing cannabis oil, it’s likely that cannabis will be decriminalized by this year. It’s also probable that the southern state will expand the TCUA to help improve the lives of numerous Texans. Do you think Texas will continue moving forward regarding medical cannabis legalization, or will they remain stagnant until the plant is federally legalized? If you want real change to occur, lend your support by asking Texas legislators to sign the state’s pending cannabis bills and team up with Texas NORML and/or Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy to generate awareness, attention and much-needed cannabis progress, both political and cultural, in 2019 and beyond.