The marijuana market is growing, and America is adapting with new legislation being introduced every week. Texas has taken a revolutionary step forward by allowing medical marijuana as opioid alternative and by changing the THC limit. Read on to find out what it’s all about.
Texas Legislation on Medical Marijuana as Opioid Alternative and Changing THC Limit
The Texas House of Representatives has initially approved a bill allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana as opioid alternative. It is one step closer to the final passage in the chamber.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Stephanie Klick (Republican) would also replace the state’s medical cannabis THC cap going from 1% to volumetric doses of 10 milligrams for cannabis oil. That part of the medical marijuana as opioid alternative legislation cleared the chamber with a 121-23 vote. It must still be approved again in the House before moving forward to Senate.
The vote comes weeks after the House unanimously approved a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession. The state is working its way towards record expungement.
The legislation on the bill allowing medical marijuana as opioid alternative also increases access to patients who require medical marijuana by allowing it for individuals with “a condition that causes chronic pain, for which a physician would otherwise prescribe an opioid”.
The bill would also allow Department of State Health Services (DSHS) regulators to approve additional debilitating medical conditions that would qualify patients for the program. If the bill passes, it will take effect on Sept. 1, 2023.
What Advocates for the Medical Marijuana as Opioid Alternative Bill are Saying
The bill that backs medical marijuana as opioid alternative is supported by the advocate group NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws). They have been encouraging supporters to reach out to local politicians to help move the legislation forward.
“Passage of this legislation will provide qualified patients with a state-sanctioned option to access a therapy that has proven to offer significant benefits. Medical cannabis is an objectively safer alternative to the array of pharmaceutical drugs that it could potentially replace,” Texas NORML Executive Jax James said at a press release yesterday.
Advocates are hoping that the legislation to allow medical marijuana as opioid alternative will open doors to more holistic medical marijuana laws and possibly eliminate prohibition. But they are seeing it as a step in the right direction, specifically in terms of recognizing medical marijuana as opioid alternative.
Other Texas Cannabis Legislation and Opinions
The bill to recognize marijuana as opioid alternative is a positive step forward. But will it pass Senate? In this section, we will review past Texas legislations and political opinions that provide insight.
A cannabis decriminalization bill was approved by the Texas House in 2019, but it did not pass to Senate. Lawmakers have been unable to pass other bills that would expand marijuana in recent sessions.
Republican state Gov. Greg Abbott says he doesn’t believe people should face jail time due to low-level marijuana possession. However, last year he incorrectly assumed that lawmakers had already made that a policy statewide.
House speaker Dade Phelan (Republican) said he would work towards marijuana criminal justice reform in the 2023 session. He has repeatedly expressed his support for lowering penalties for marijuana possession.
A platform plank supporting the decriminalization of marijuana possession was endorsed by the Texas Republican party in 2018 but was later rescinded.
A poll released last month showed that Texas voters feel the state’s marijuana laws should be “less strict”.
Last month Texas lawmakers filed three bills that would expand research on the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics. If enacted, they would allow for a modest psychedelic study law to go into effect.
The state has also seen an increase in local activity regarding marijuana issues under home rule laws in recent years.
Austin and five other cities have already enacted decriminalization on a local level this past November.
The Opioid Epidemic in Texas
The medical marijuana as opioid alternative bill may reduce the opioid epidemic which has been a major issue in Texas and all over the world. Here are some state factors to consider:
- 25% of Texans have had an opioid overdose or know someone who has.
- The Texas Department of State Health estimates there was an average of 2,506 opioid-related deaths in the state in 2021.
- Opioids have been involved in about 525 unintentional overdose deaths in the state since 2017.
- The average number of opioid-related deaths per month rose from 114 in 2019 to 209 in 2021.
- Opioid use in Texas was at 7.2% in 2020 as compared to the national average of 5.6%.
- 2.8% of the 469 fatal work injury deaths in Texas in 2020 involved an unintentional overdose of drugs or alcohol.
Medical Marijuana as Opioid Alternative
Researchers believe that using medical marijuana as opioid alternative could reduce the opioid epidemic. But will it work?
Research has shown that medical marijuana has pain-relieving characteristics. Two review articles evaluating 2000 patients found that it can address symptoms such as:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Muscle stiffness
- Quality of life issues
A medication known as nabiximols which has a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC is effective in relieving cancer and multiple sclerosis pain. It is currently prescribed in 20 countries, and it is being studied in clinical trials in the United States.
Cannabis is still being looked at for its potential to treat acute pain. However, it has been shown to be effective in reducing chronic pain, nerve pain, and neuropathic pain.
It may also be used in combination with opioids to treat pain. Studies have shown that consuming cannabis has helped people cut down on their opioid use by 40% to 60%. This leads to fewer side effects, better pain control, less risk of overdose, and reduced cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
The Texas legislation to allow medical marijuana as opioid alternative could be a positive step forward. We can only wait to see whether it will pass Senate.