Earlier this week, the Texas Legislature adjourned after its 140-day legislative session. This year's session brought successes and setbacks. Prohibitionists went to great lengths to keep the status quo and some of their reefer madness unfortunately worked.
Industrial Hemp Legalization – HB 1325 legalizes industrial hemp in Texas and establishes a regulatory structure so that Texans may soon start growing hemp.
Limited Low-THC Medical Cannabis Expansion – HB 3703 removes the two-physician requirement for a medical marijuana card and expands the qualifying conditions to include: epilepsy, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, ALS, autism, terminal cancer, and incurable neurodegenerative diseases. It does not change the 0.5% THC cap. HB 3703 is currently on Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.
What Fell Short:
Marijuana Decriminalization – HB 63, which would have replaced possible jail time with a fine, passed in the Texas House but stalled in the Texas Senate after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made it his mission to kill the bill.
Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Expansion – HB 1365 would have expanded qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, increased the number of dispensaries, and established a research review board that could allow different amounts of cannabinoids. This bill passed in the Texas House but did not receive a hearing in the Senate.
Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature won't be back in session until 2021. That means two more years of patients suffering and needless arrests. We want to congratulate everyone who worked so hard to make progress, including Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy.
Support for marijuana reform is at an all-time high so let's keep our chins up and keep pushing. Together, we can change marijuana laws in Texas.
The National Academies of Sciences released a report on the health impacts of marijuana Thursday, confirming the existence of medical benefits and dispelling some long-held myths about the substance.
The review of more than 10,000 scientific abstracts found, “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective” for the treatment of chronic pain in adults, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and multiple sclerosis spasticity.
The report also dispels several myths about the health impacts of marijuana. It found no links between smoking marijuana and the development of lung, head, or neck cancers, nor did it establish a link between marijuana use and asthma or other respiratory diseases. The respiratory problems that it did link to smoking marijuana, such as bronchitis, appear to improve after the consumer ceases their use.
According to the report, “There is no or insufficient evidence” linking marijuana use to all-cause mortality (death), deaths from overdose, or occupational accidents or injuries. It also found no substantial evidence of a link between the use of marijuana and the use of other illegal drugs. The report also does not appear to make any links between marijuana use and violent or aggressive behavior. Several of these findings were also included in the National Academies of Sciences’ previous report on marijuana, which was released in 1999.
Major news: It was announced today that Sativex, a cannabinoid-based liquid medicine sprayed under the tongue, has been approved for use in Great Britain to help treat the muscle spasticity suffered by multiple sclerosis patients. Sativex is a natural marijuana extract that is produced by British-based GW Pharmaceuticals. It has been approved for use in Canada to treat neuropathic pain since 2005.
“Once again, the scientific community has confirmed that marijuana is medicine and it can provide safe and effective relief to patients suffering from certain conditions,” said Rob Kampia, MPP’s executive director, in an statement issued today. “Sadly, our federal government, through the Drug Enforcement Administration, has blocked effective research into the therapeutic effectiveness of marijuana. The United States could be leading the world in the development of cannabinoid-based medicines, but instead our government has ceded this industry to the U.K., while intentionally prolonging the agony of patients in this country.”
The Food and Drug Administration has already approved the pill Marinol, which contains marijuana’s main psychoactive component, THC, for medical use in the United States, but unlike Sativex, Marinol does not contain all of marijuana’s more than 60 different cannabinoids, and therefore doesn’t offer the full therapeutic potential of marijuana. Among patients, Marinol is notoriously ineffective.
“The good news is that this announcement buttresses our argument that marijuana is an effective medicine. To have liquid marijuana legal for medical use but marijuana illegal would be like having coffee legal but coffee beans illegal,” Kampia added.
A report published yesterday in the online journal BMC Neurology says that marijuana might help multiple sclerosis patients find relief from the spasticity and muscle spasms caused by the debilitating autoimmune disease.
“We found evidence that cannabis plant extracts may provide therapeutic benefit for MS spasticity symptoms,” said lead researcher Dr. Shaheen Lakhan, executive director of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation. “The therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in MS appears to be comprehensive, and should be given considerable attention.”
The idea of using marijuana to treat MS is not new. This particular study looked at marijuana extracts, but there is also data available on the entire plant’s therapeutic potential for those suffering from MS.