Cannabidiol (CBD) has gained vast awareness internationally for its healing capabilities in recent years, with many US states choosing to decriminalize the drug, making medical marijuana legal for those who really need it. Georgia and Illinois did so over the last two weeks alone.
While more than 30 states have now legalized medical marijuana according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Texas has always been one of the most reluctant, with stringent legislations that make it difficult for many with serious and life-limiting conditions to seek relief in the form of CBD.
It was only when Klick campaigned for the first Compassionate Use Act in 2015 for Texans with intractable epilepsy that senior officials started to rethink their stance on the drug.
Though this campaign was successful, it helped a very small proportion of people, and left many others feeling helpless to deal with their health ailments themselves—or through highly-addictive, zombifying pharmaceutical medications.
It wasn’t that Klick had given up; in fact, he’d done the opposite, proposing that the Compassionate Use Act 2015 should be expanded to include those with multiple sclerosis, spasticity and any form of epilepsy, allowing them to use the medicinal oil as well.
“For people with chronic conditions like neurodegenerative diseases and terminal cancer, it’s very important to those patients.” Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, a former nurse, explained.
Despite the warning, nobody seriously considered amending the act, and it seemed like nothing was going to change on Texas’ CBD front.
This was until the farm bill 2018, which legalized hemp, a term used for cannabis that contains 0.3% of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC. Under this act, it’s totally legal to run and distribute a company that sells CBD and related products, and move hemp across state borders.
This reassurance and back up from federal law led many to believe it was perfectly legal for them to buy and use the oil.
Initially, this started online, but CBD stores soon began opening across the state.
It’s not only distributors who were being targeted, however. Earlier this year, reports surfaced of a 72-year-old woman who had been arrested at DFW Airport after CBD oil was found in her luggage. She was initially charged with a felony, though this was eventually dropped two months after she had first been arrested.
It was days after the case involving the arrest of the 72-year-old woman, when people were weary of using CBD oil for their health ailments due to the actions of law enforcement, when state House members gave a final approval to a measure that would expand the 2015 Compassionate Use Act.
Said measure was well received in Texas, and was eventually approved on a 136-5 vote, with all Tarren County members voting in support.
The bill was then passed on to Gov. Greg Abbot for his consideration, where it was soon signed into legislation.
Interestingly, the list of conditions was also expanded from the proposal created by Klick, who initially put three other categories of conditions forward for consideration.
The senate chose to add seizure disorders (including non-epileptic ones), terminal cancer, autism, and ALS to the list; a list that was quickly agreed upon by the House.
Some people, like Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, believe that this bill doesn’t go far enough.
“Even with this changes, the Compassionate Use Program is unreasonable restrictive, leaving behind the vast majority of patients who could benefit from medical cannabis,” She explains, “It is unconscionable that we would continue denying very sick people access to medicine.”.
While this may indeed be the case, this bill does indicate that Texas is finally coming around to the idea of loosening its marijuana laws—at least for medicinal cases—and the changes recently implemented are a great start to a potential long list of improvements in the future.