Texas House Approves Bill to Expand Medical Marijuana Eligibility for Chronic Pain Sufferers: Program Growth and Access Challenges

The Texas House recently approved a bill that aims to expand eligibility for the state’s medical marijuana program to include individuals suffering from chronic pain. If passed into law, this expansion will go into effect on September 1.

The Compassionate Use Program was initially established in Texas in 2015, with further expansions occurring in 2019 and 2021. Originally, the program only catered to patients with intractable epilepsy. However, after the passage of the two subsequent bills, the program opened up to patients with epilepsy, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, and incurable neurodegenerative diseases.

To obtain medical marijuana in Texas, patients must have one of the specified medical conditions, be a permanent resident of the state, and find a certified physician. The Department of Public Safety offers a search engine to help patients locate certified physicians in their area. Once a doctor determines that the benefits of THC products outweigh the risks for a patient, they enter a prescription into the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT). Patients or their legal guardians can then visit a licensed dispensary to collect their medication.

Since the inception of the program, the number of certified doctors who can prescribe THC products has increased dramatically. In 2018, there were only 57 certified doctors in the state. By the end of 2022, this number had surged to 667, and by March, it had surpassed 700. Similarly, the number of registered patients has also grown, with over 50,000 Texans now listed in the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas.

However, the state only has three licensed dispensaries for all Texans seeking to access medical marijuana. Although some dispensaries offer delivery services, one Texas veteran and program recipient, who chose to remain anonymous, mentioned that obtaining THC products is both difficult and expensive. The veteran, who lives about an hour outside of Austin, said medical marijuana has helped him and many other veterans he knows.

Due to the limited number of dispensaries and their distance, several veterans he knows resort to purchasing marijuana illegally, as it is cheaper and easier to obtain. The proposed expansion of the medical marijuana program to include chronic pain sufferers highlights the need for increased access to dispensaries and affordability for eligible Texans.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments