Times are changing, though maybe a little slower in Texas. Like the saying goes, everything's a little bigger in the state… even prejudices against marijuana. Up until September 2017, Texas was still lacking in medical marijuana dispensaries, and turned a cold eye toward the healing benefits of the plant. However, thanks to the Texas Compassionate Use Act, MMJ is becoming a little more accessible to many in need.
What Is the Compassionate Use Act?
Signed into law in 2015, the Texas Compassionate Use Act is the state's version of a medical marijuana program. As the act promised, 2017 was the first year of action for MMJ. The bill allows for small amounts of low-THC cannabis to be prescribed for the program's single qualifying condition: intractable epilepsy.
Many argue that only having one qualifying condition is both ineffective and anything but compassionate; however, for those suffering from refractory seizures, a medical marijuana card can be a godsend.
Additionally, the act limits the type of cannabis allowed. Patients are only able to use cannabidiol (CBD) oil to replace other medications that may have severe side effects. Specifically, the oil has to contain at least 10 percent or more CBD, and .5 percent or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana products. This regulation places a one-size-fits-all label on a plant that literally has a customizable experience; between edibles, smoking, and topicals, there are endless options to find the cannabis treatment that works best for the individual user. In Texas, though, that point is moot.
Further, these qualifying patients are only able to use CBD oil if they have already tried two other prescription medications with no success.
The Compassionate Use Act allowed for three medical marijuana dispensaries to open in Texas; as of December 2017, Cansortium Texas, Compassionate Cultivation, and Surterra Texas are all licensed, open, and ready to do business with card-carrying qualifiers.
How to Get Your Card
In order to get a medical marijuana card in Texas, patients must first be a permanent resident in the state. Then they must qualify by suffering from intractable epilepsy, trying at least two traditional medications that have failed, and then obtaining prescriptions from two state-licensed physicians.
It is still illegal under federal law to prescribe cannabis, even in oil or extract form. In other states with less restrictive medical marijuana programs, doctors instead write "recommendations" or provide "certificates" in order for a patient to be accepted into the MMJ program. Because of the strict language that actually requires a literal prescription, Texans may have a harder time getting this essential step from two doctors. However, the official site states that "Texas Health and Safety Code Ch 487 refers to ‘prescriptions’ and creates an exemption from criminal offenses for those who obtain low-THC cannabis through a prescription issued under the Compassionate Use Act." While many doctors might err on the side of caution, this information is invaluable.
After a patient has their prescriptions in hand, their information will be stored in the Compassionate Use Registry by a physician, without any additional registration or fees. Patients will then be able to access the allowed cannabis oil from one of the three licensed dispensaries, which also handle the growth and cultivation of the marijuana.
Though the process for getting an MMJ card seems specific and harrowing, hope is not lost. While the Compassionate Use Act may seem anything but, good things are happening. People who suffer from this crippling condition can finally find relief by signing up for a well-earned medical marijuana card. And as of April 2017, legislators have brought up bills regarding cannabis decriminalization. While there might not be free-for-all leisurely toking anytime soon, the movement has started, and it likely won't be backing down.
Article by: Savannah Nelson