The movement to legalize marijuana in the U.S. has made significant progress the last several years, and even conservative states have been leaning towards change. Texas is the latest state to nearly pass a bill that would make it easier for patients to access marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Currently, it is only possible to use medical marijuana in the state to treat intractable epilepsy under the Compassionate Use Act. But House Bill 3703 would broaden the range of conditions that medical marijuana could treat with a prescription from specialty doctors, including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, autism, spasticity, ALS and terminal cancer. The bill passed the house on a 136-5 vote, and now heads to Governor Greg Abbott for final approval.
Bill still has limits
However, the bill is a small step for Texas’ medical marijuana program and not large enough for some advocates. The bill will not include post-traumatic stress disorder as condition, nor will it change the low level of 0.5 THC allowed in medical products.
But the changes does marks progress on cannabis policies in Texas. In conservative states being too aggressive could end up with nothing passed as there’s still not a lot of research on medical marijuana and its effectiveness.
– Senator Donna Campbell (R)
Under the proposed law, patients will be required to see specialized doctors rather than general practitioners, who won’t have authority to prescribe medical marijuana for the new allowed conditions. This conservative approach shows marijuana still carries stigma among Texan lawmakers.
– Senator Brian Birdwell (R)
Marijuana as medicine is a polarizing topic. While many believe it can help be a solution to the opioid crisis, others questions its medical efficacy.
Cannabis progress could be big for Texas
With nearly 29 million people, Texas has the potential to become one of the largest markets for medical marijuana in the entire U.S. In Florida, with 19 million people, the state’s medical program has flourished, which might give a positive sign for what’s to come in the more populated Texas.
Passing House Bill 3703 does offer progress on cannabis policy in the state, but federal legalization for recreational use is more likely to come soon than at the Texas state level. Even states with majority Democrat governments, like New York and New Jersey, have taken a conservative approach on cannabis legalization despite overwhelming public support.
But as more states get on board with legalization in one form or another, the more research and data on potential medical treatments for cannabis can be collected. And with more evidence-based studies passing legislation in other states or at the federal level seems more likely.