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Is Legal Weed Coming to Texas?

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DPS Licenses Medical Marijuana Producer

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – Over half (29) of the 50 United States along with the District of Columbia currently have laws which allow the usage of marijuana in some form

Texas, however, is not one of these states but that may be about to change. On Friday, Sept.1, the Texas Department of Public Safety “…  granted one of three planned licenses to a medical marijuana producer on Friday, which will allow the program created by the Texas Compassionate Use Act to get underway after more than two years of planning,” according to information from the DPS.

The Texas Compassionate Use Program, also known as SB 339, was passed in November of 2015 but was not enacted until last week.

A bill analysis prepared by the Senate Research Center stated, “There are approximately 149,000 Texans of all ages with intractable epilepsy, which means the condition is not controlled by medicine or surgical procedures. People with intractable epilepsy have a higher risk of a shortened life span, bodily injury, mental health impairment, and disability.  Children with the condition experience developmental delays and some do not develop mentally past the stage of an infant.”

“Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is an extract from the cannabis plant, and has been shown to dramatically decrease the number of seizures in people with intractable epilepsy,” the bill analysis furthered. “The oil is produced to be high in CBD and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the intoxicating ingredient in the marijuana plant.”

The Texas Compassionate Use Program currently only permits patients suffering from intractable epilepsy to access specific types of medical marijuana that are effective for some patients with seizure disorders, the press release stated.

Unlike every functioning medical marijuana program, it also requires doctors to prescribe medical marijuana, which is a violation of federal law and could put participating doctors at risk of losing their DEA registration or even facing criminal charges

“According to data obtained from the Texas Medical Bureau, the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and the American Board of Clinical Neurophysiology, only 411 doctors in the state have the necessary qualifications to register for the program. This amounts to approximately 0.54% of the licensed physicians in Texas. Far fewer may decide to register in light of the personal and professional risk involved,” according to the DPS press release.

“The few patients that could be helped by this program are now one step closer to finding relief. However, the extremely limited scope and flawed language may doom the program unless it is revised,” Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said. “Lawmakers need to stop stalling and approve comprehensive improvements when they are back in session in 2019. Seriously ill Texans have waited long enough.”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.

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