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Texas Lawmakers Approve Marijuana to Replace Opioids for Chronic Pain

On Monday, March 20th, a bill was approved by Texas lawmakers that permits doctors to suggest medical marijuana as a treatment option for patients experiencing chronic pain due to a condition that would typically be managed with prescription opioids. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R), also intends to replace the THC cap set by the state’s current medical cannabis law. After its initial hearing, the legislation was passed by the House Public Health Committee.

The proposed medical marijuana expansion includes replacing the existing one percent THC cap for cannabis oil with a volumetric dose of 10 milligrams. That is the appropriate milligram count for a fully loaded THC dose.

The proposed legislation also introduces a tenth qualifying condition. This condition relates to chronic pain, for which Texas doctors would typically prescribe opioids.

It is worth noting that the bill grants regulators at the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) the power to approve additional medical conditions that qualify patients for the cannabis program via rulemaking. If passed, the bill would become effective from September 1, 2023.

At present, low-THC medical cannabis is available to patients in Texas with epilepsy, seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism, cancer, an incurable neurodegenerative disease, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

This move by Texas lawmakers is a welcome relief for many people who rely on opioid medications, essentially heroin, to manage their symptoms. Opioids, which are highly addictive, have been the cause of a nationwide epidemic of addiction and overdose. Opioids were often over prescribed to patients, which was tightened up on in the last few years. Unfortunately for people, towns, and communities, to fill the devilish void left behind, real heroin showed up, which has contributed to an increase in HIV/AIDS. By allowing medical marijuana as an alternative, Texas is taking a real proactive step towards reducing opioid dependence and the associated risks.

While the passing of House Bill 1535 is a significant milestone for medical marijuana advocates in Texas, there is still work to be done to ensure that those who need this treatment have access to it. The law includes several restrictions, including a requirement for patients to have tried other treatments before being able to access medical marijuana. Additionally, the new THC limit is can still be increased compared to other states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.

By allowing medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids, Texas is taking a huge proactive step towards reducing opioid dependence and improving the quality of life for many of its residents.

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