One of the strictest states in America on cannabis policy is opening the door ever slightly for more people to start legally using the pant.
A new law that passed in the Texas Legislature earlier this year allowing people who suffer from PTSD and all forms of cancer to imbibe in low doses of THC goes into effect on Wednesday. It also increases the maximum amount of THC that medical cannabis products can contain from a half-percent to 1 percent.
The law allows people to consume cannabis in just about every manner possible, except the most common one: smoking. Instead, patients will only be allowed to swallow cannabis capsules, consume edibles and ingest oils.
Texas is known for being one of the most restrictive states in the county on cannabis, previously limiting access to the plant only to people with neurological disorders or terminal cancer. Less than 6,500 patients are currently qualified to use marijuana under the Texas Compassionate Use Program.
The relaxed laws are nothing more than a “small compromise,” according to cannabis advocates. Activists pushed for 5 percent THC in the original bill, but the Republican-controlled legislature wouldn’t go that far. The advocates argued that 1 percent still isn’t enough for users to reap the benefits of THC – the chemical in cannabis that can produce a psychoactive high.
In fact, the quantity is still very close to the legal THC limit for hemp-based CBD products, which can reach 0.3 percent THC.
Comparatively speaking, most of the other 35 medical cannabis states allow flower sold at licensed dispensaries to exceed 30 percent THC. Several legal marijuana concentrates are over 90 percent THC.
According to a leading Texas advocate, the new law is a start. But it still doesn’t serve enough people in need of the plant’s healing properties, which can help with a host of ailments including glaucoma, seizures, pain, anxiety, depression, appetite loss and cancer.
Instead, many Texas patients are going out of state to get their medicine.
“Some people have actually left the state permanently” said Jax Finkel, executive director of the Texas’ NORML chapter. “They’re medical refugees. It’s really a tragedy that we aren’t accommodating them.”
A Rice University survey of 3,000 people, cited by the non-profit Texas Tribune, claims that some 84 percent of medical marijuana patients in the state have considered leaving for another state with a more developed cannabis program.