Texas Marijuana Laws 2023
Texas House Approves Bill to Expand Medical Marijuana Access and Replace THC Limit
The Texas House of Representatives has taken a significant step towards enhancing medical marijuana access by approving a bill that allows doctors to recommend cannabis as an alternative to opioids for patients with chronic pain. The legislation, introduced by Representative Stephanie Klick, also seeks to replace the existing THC cap imposed by the state's limited medical cannabis law. The bill passed the House in a 121-23 vote on second reading and requires one more approval before potentially advancing to the Senate.
In addition to the medical marijuana expansion, a separate House panel recently endorsed a bill to decriminalize cannabis possession in Texas and establish a pathway for expunging records related to such offenses. This progressive move demonstrates a growing recognition of the need for marijuana policy reform in the state.
Under the proposed medical marijuana legislation, the one percent THC cap on cannabis oil would be replaced by a volumetric dose of 10 milligrams. Furthermore, patients suffering from chronic pain, a condition for which opioids are typically prescribed, would be eligible to access low-THC marijuana products. The bill also grants the Department of State Health Services the authority to include additional qualifying conditions for medical cannabis patients through rulemaking. If passed, the legislation will take effect from September 1, 2023.
Advocacy groups like Texas NORML have been actively urging supporters to contact their lawmakers and express support for this reform. According to Texas NORML Executive Director Jax James, passing this legislation would offer qualified patients a state-sanctioned option that has been proven to provide significant therapeutic benefits. Medical cannabis serves as a safer alternative to an array of pharmaceutical drugs and has the potential to replace them effectively.
While many advocates hope for more comprehensive medical cannabis legislation or even an end to prohibition, this bill represents a substantial expansion of access and acknowledges the potential of cannabis as an opioid alternative. Despite the Texas House approving a cannabis decriminalization bill in 2019, it did not progress in the Senate. Efforts to pass broader cannabis bills in recent sessions have faced challenges.
Governor Greg Abbott has previously stated that he does not believe individuals should be incarcerated for low-level marijuana possession. However, he incorrectly suggested last year that the policy had already been adopted statewide. House Speaker Dade Phelan has expressed support for reducing penalties for marijuana possession and intends to work towards criminal justice reform in the 2023 session.
A majority of Texas voters agree that the state's marijuana laws should be less strict, according to a recent poll. In addition to cannabis-related reforms, lawmakers have also introduced bills aimed at expanding research on the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics, building upon the modest psychedelics study law enacted last session.
Over the past few years, local jurisdictions in Texas have taken action on marijuana issues through home rule laws. Cities like Austin have already implemented decriminalization measures at the local level through ballot initiatives, and voters in five other Texas cities approved similar reforms in November.
As Texas progresses towards reforming its marijuana laws, these recent developments indicate a growing recognition of the potential benefits of medical cannabis and the need to provide patients with safer alternatives to opioids.