Texas has some major changes surrounding cannabis on the horizon.
The state House of Representatives has given preliminary approval to a bill that would allow doctors to recommend medical cannabis to patients as an alternative to opioids for chronic pain. The bill would specifically expand eligibility for low-THC cannabis products, giving legal access to patients with “a condition that causes chronic pain, and for which a doctor may prescribe an opioid.”
According to the Center for Disease ControlOne in five Americans suffers from chronic pain. In 2021, more than 106,000 people died in the United States from a drug overdose, including illegal drugs and prescription opioids, according to the National Institutes of Health. In Texas specifically, there was an 80% increase in reported deaths related to synthetic opioids in 2021 compared to 2020, according to Texas Workforce Commission.
On the contrary, even The Drug Enforcement Administration admits No cannabis overdose deaths have ever occurred.
A new chapter for the Texas cannabis industry?
legislation, House Bell 1805It will also replace the THC cap established under the current medical cannabis law in Texas. Medical cannabis law in Texas is currently CBD only, with a cap of 1% THC for hemp oil. If the law is enacted, the THC limit will shift to the volumetric dose of 10mg. The bill further states that regulators at the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) can approve additional debilitating medical conditions to qualify new patients for the cannabis program by setting rules.
The bill, by Rep. Stephanie Click (R), passed the chamber after a 121-23 vote on Tuesday, and needs another round of approval in the House before it can move to the Senate. If the law is enacted, it will take effect on September 1, 2023.
Texas NORML also encouraged supporters in the state to reach out to lawmakers and express support for the reform, and to encourage lawmakers to approve it. Jax James, CEO of Texas NORML, said in a statement New release He is “happy” to see the progress of the proposed legislation.
“Passage of this legislation will provide eligible patients with a state-sanctioned option to access treatment that has been shown to provide significant benefits,” Jones said. “Medical cannabis is an objectively safer alternative to the group of pharmaceutical drugs that can replace it. I urge my colleagues in Texas to express their support for this important piece of legislation and reach out to my senators to encourage their support as it progresses through the legislative process.”
One of many recent transformations
Of course, this move could be seen as a small step compared to other states that have enacted more extensive legalization of medical cannabis, or ended prohibition as a whole, though it still represents a significant expansion in Texas. It’s also one of many recent moves that show Texas may be broadening its horizons when it comes to cannabis.
Texas lawmakers recently Hold a hearing On House Bill 218 that, if passed, would reduce penalties for possession of cannabis and cannabis concentrates. Last month, the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee also Voted 9-0 to pass the bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis.
On Election Day 2022, five Texas cities also voted to decriminalize low-level cannabis possession: Denton, San Marcos, Killeen, Elgin and Harker Heights. In the weeks that followed, some cities They clashed with lawmakerswho argued that decriminalization efforts violated state law and impeded police officers.
Recently, a federal court in Texas also ruled that the federal ban on cannabis users owning firearms is unconstitutional. The judge in the case, Kathleen Cardone, said, “It is naïve to think that engaging in such a widespread practice could render an individual so dangerous or untrustworthy that they should be stripped of their Second Amendment rights.”
Texans prefer the updated cannabis policies
And while Texas still has very restrictive cannabis laws, they don’t align with the views held by the state’s citizens.
according to Study University of Houston Released earlier this year, out of 1,200 Texas adults age 18 or older, four out of five adults said they would support an expanded medical cannabis program. The survey also found that a majority of respondents supported decriminalizing cannabis possession, reducing the penalty for possession of small amounts of cannabis to a citation, and that two-thirds of the individuals surveyed supported legalizing cannabis use for adults.
last vote, conducted by the University of Texas and the Texas Policy Project in 2022, similarly found that a strong majority (72%) supported decriminalizing cannabis by making the offense punishable by citation and a fine without the threat of imprisonment. Only 17% said they would support a complete ban on cannabis use, including medical cannabis.