Texas’s Compassionate Use Program for medical cannabis is set become (just a little) more compassionate, with changes signed into law by the state’s governor this week.
Texas passed the Compassionate-Use Act in 2015, which enabled the first legal use of low-THC cannabis products in the state. The program has been very restrictive, only allowing for the use of cannabidiol (CBD) preparations containing no more than 0.5% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Originally, the Compassionate-Use Program only applied to patients with intractable epilepsy.
But in 2019, HB 3703 came into effect; expanding the program somewhat to include patients diagnosed with seizure disorders, MS spasticity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism, terminal cancer, or an incurable neurodegenerative disease.
On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott signed off on House Bill 1535, expanding the program a little more again. HB 1535, which comes into effect from September, will also allow for patients with PTSD and all types of cancer – not just terminal – to qualify. Additionally, it also raises THC threshold from 0.5 to one percent.
While the Governor’s signature wasn’t accompanied by any fanfare, last week Governor Abbott signalled his support for the bill, tweeting:
“Veterans could qualify for medical marijuana under new law. I will sign it.”
The bill also covers the establishment of compassionate-use institutional review boards that will evaluate and approve proposed research programs to study the medical use of low-THC cannabis.
HB 1535 had quite a long journey, having been filed in March of last year.
Further information on Texas’s Compassionate-Use Program, which hasn’t been updated to take into account HB 1535 as it doesn’t come into effect until September, can be found here.
A database listing physicians who are registered to prescribe low-THC cannabis is available here. Physicians wishing to prescribe cannabis must register with the state and have board certifications in a medical specialty relevant to the treatment of each patient’s condition, or from an approved specialty board.
Texas patients are required to purchase low-THC cannabis products from a licensed dispensing organization and smokable cannabis is not permitted under the program. Only 3 dispensing organisations have been issued licenses in the Lone Star State – Fluent, Compassionate Cultivation and goodblend; all of which have held licenses since 2017.