While Texas still doles out some of the harshest punishments in the U.S. for marijuana related crimes, the state’s first medical marijuana law is set to get rolling today, with the Department of Public Safety officially accepting applications from prospective growers and producers. And while Texas’ medical law would only allow CBD-heavy, low-THC concentrates and oils, some cannabis activists aren’t convinced that anyone will actually be able to access the program.
According to Leafly, the language in the Texas Compassionate Use Act, which was signed into law in 2015 by Governor Greg Abbott, specifies that patients would need to be “prescribed” medical marijuana from a doctor to have access to the program.
Doctors are given the power to prescribe DEA scheduled drugs, but because cannabis is still federally classified as a schedule 1 drug with ““no currently accepted medical use,” it means that doctors are legally not allowed to write a prescription for cannabis. If they do, there is a chance they could lose their medical license.
To get around these semantic restraints, California and every other state with a successful medical marijuana program has relied on “recommendations” or “certifications” instead of prescriptions to grant access to medical cannabis. A 2002 court case said that doctors could not be punished for recommending marijuana, as long as they didn’t help the patient get their stash. Because Texas will only allow prescriptions, doctors will not have that protection.
But while some advocates are skeptical as to whether patients will ever be able to get the medicine they need, that isn’t stopping prospective cultivators and suppliers from applying for production licenses in hopes that the law’s nomenclature won’t hold them back.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has defined a marijuana prescription as “an entry in the compassionate-use registry.” But only time will tell if doctors in the Lone Star state are willing to take the risk and write the ‘scripts.