Texas: 100+ Conditions Added to Low-THC Medical Cannabis Program | TxMJPolicy

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has approved a broad definition of “incurable neurodegenerative disease,” a condition that now qualifies a patient to participate in the Texas Compassionate Use Program (T.CUP).

As of December 5, 2019, patients with the following diagnosis (and more than 100 others) may participate in our state’s low-THC medical cannabis program:

Alzheimer’s Disease and several forms of dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, several forms of muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s Disease, motor neuron diseases like ALS, multiple mitochondrial conditions, creatine disorders, and neurotransmitter defect.

Find a full list of the newly added conditions here.

Additionally, the rule allows “a treating physician of a patient suffering from an incurable neurodegenerative disease not listed… may submit a request to the department to have a disease added.”

More information about this new definition, the process by which it was approved, and resources for patients who’d like to participate can be found here.

Background

In 2015, lawmakers established the Texas Compassionate Use Program, providing a legal and regulatory infrastructure for our state’s first legal cannabis market. At the time, only those with intractable epilepsy were granted legal access and, after four years of implementation, less than 1,000 patients had been able to participate in the program.

During the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers did little to improve the Compassionate Use Program. Even with the changes that were made, the program still allows only limited access to cannabis low in THC (.5%). With the legalization of hemp and hemp derived products (defined as cannabis with .3% THC), it’s difficult to see how the program is relevant at all.

Plus, there’s no mechanism for independent, third-party testing of the cannabis products patients are receiving. This was a big oversight that has still not been remedied.

We want to see the Compassionate Use Program expanded and improved during the 2021 legislative session. Doctors should be the decision-makers when it comes to who they prescribe cannabis for and the cannabinoid dosing (including THC) that will best treat their patient’s needs. It’s also critical that we allow third-party testing for consumer protection.

To join our efforts, click here to sign up for email alerts and click here to send a quick email to your legislators in support of a more inclusive medical cannabis program!

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