Texas is reportedly planning to hire pot growers to produce cannabis strains that are low in THC to be used by epilepsy patients. The state will license companies to cultivate marijuana and extract its oil in order to kick off a medical marijuana program by 2017. According to reports, regulations are currently being drafted for final approval at the end of the year. Afterwards, licenses will be issued to cultivators, processors, and dispensaries.
While this should be great news to patients in need of medical marijuana, the law passed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott last June would still make medical cannabis difficult to procure, just because of a major flaw in one simple word.
According to the law, patients suffering from epilepsy can get access to cannabis oil. Marijuana growers are also allowed to cultivate and distribute cannabis so that these seizure patients can get access to effective medicinal marijuana without traveling outside Texas.
But instead of doctors “recommending” marijuana to patients, the law forces them to “prescribe” it, which is against the Controlled Substances Act that states, “Doctors may not prescribe marijuana for medical use under federal law, though they can recommend its use under the First Amendment.” This single wording mistake will make cannabis oil out of the reach of Texas’ 150,000 epilepsy patients.
This isn’t the first time that this happened, though. More than 20 years ago, Louisiana made the same similar mistake of forcing doctors to “prescribe” medical marijuana rather than simply “recommend” it. As a result, no patient ever received the drug until early this year, when Governor Bobby Jindal signed a revised marijuana law.
But in spite of this technicality, entrepreneurs are seizing the opportunity to capitalize on Texas’ seemingly non-existent marijuana industry without considering the implications. But until reforms are made on the state’s Compassionate Use Act, it is likely that doctors will avoid providing prescriptions in order to stay away from federal prosecution, hence effectively killing an industry that has never started in the first place.
Can you think of ways that the medical marijuana industry in Texas can thrive despite the current law? Voice your opinions in the comments section below – your opinion matters to the nation.