Published: Tue, January 2, 2018 @ 12:05 a.m.
By PAUL J. WEBER and CLAUDIA LAUER
As California began the new year with the sale of recreational pot for the first time, Texas tiptoed into its own marijuana milestone: a medical cannabis program so restrictive that doubts swirl over who will even use it.
Texas is the last big state to allow some form of medical marijuana, albeit an oil extract so low in the psychoactive component, THC, that it couldn’t get a person high. Though it might seem that Texas policymakers have softened their attitude toward the drug, bringing them more in line with the U.S. population as a whole, they have not. A joint could still land you in jail in Texas, and the state’s embrace of medical marijuana comes with a heavy dose of caution.
Among the concerns are the license fees to grow marijuana in Texas – which are the highest in the U.S., at nearly $500,000 – and that the program is rolling out with just eight participating doctors in a state of 27 million people. And, like other states, access is limited to a small pool of patients who have been diagnosed with intractable epilepsy and tried at least two other treatments first.
“It’s heartbreaking. Being able to say, ‘Yes, you can get it,’ but reading over the whole law, there is still some things we have to jump over,” said Cristina Ollervidez, 31, who lives near the Texas-Mexico border and