Medical marijuana is a drug used to treat a number of conditions but it is still heavily restricted in this country and state. However Texas should expand its availability in order to give patients the treatment they need.
There are many studies that show that medical marijuana, also known as medical cannabis, can be used to treat many medical conditions such as epilepsy and seizures, HIV/AIDs and Alzheimer’s disease and others.
Despite being proven helpful in treating many medical conditions and being legalized in over 36 states and District of Columbia, medical marijuana is under restrictive legalization in many states, including Texas.
In fact, Texas has some of the most restrictive laws for the use of medical marijuana.
Texas’s Compassionate Use Program which was first passed in 2015 and later expanded in 2019 and 2021, allows the access to low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, in low measures.
Last year the Texas legislature passed HB 1531, which expanded the prescription of the drug to include all forms of cancer, just not terminal, as well as the use for post-traumatic stress disorder. Although the house had voted to increase the THC levels to 5 percent, the senate brought it back down to 1 percent.
Chronic pain was also not included in the bill, even though science has shown how effective marijuana can be for pain relief.
Marijuana can be very effective for things like pain relief. Studies have shown that the substance may be a valid alternative for painkillers like opioids. Opioids can lead to addiction and marijuana is far less addictive, so legalizing it could be extremely helpful.
Their guidelines are very rigid whereas in a state like California, medical marijuana can be used as long as people can prove their symptoms like back pain affect them negatively.
Some may scoff at California’s looseness with its laws, but it allows more people to get access to treatment.
The low THC levels are a problem as well. While low levels are useful for many people, many patients may need a higher dose. Most states have much higher percentages for medical marijuana THC content, usually in the fifteen percent range.
Restrictions on the levels of drugs can be a hurdle for doctors to provide their patients with the right care. The amount of medicine required by the patient should be set by doctors, not lawmakers.
Texas’ program also only allows people to get their prescriptions from certain dispensaries and physicians. There are approximately only 254 doctors that can prescribe the use of medical cannabis, in a state with more than 29 million people. There is an unequal balance of doctors who can prescribe and the number of people who need medical marijuana.
There are also delays in the prescriptions getting to the patients who need it. The various restrictions that such as wait time and cost, are leaving many Texans to still purchasing from illicit markets and importing these drugs from surrounding states, that have much better access laws.
The state also excludes many conditions such as chronic pain from its list of approved conditions. Chronic pain accompanies many different medical diagnoses so Texas may be leaving people out who could really benefit from medical cannabis.
Full legalization of medical marijuana would not only be beneficial for those who need it to help treat medical conditions such as chronic pain but will help grow the economy by making more jobs.
Atirikta Kumar is a journalism freshman who can be reached at [email protected]