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Cautious Texas among the last states to accept medical marijuana

MANCHACA, Texas (AP) – When California sounds in the new year with the sale of recreational marijuana for the first time, Texas will be on tiptoe in its own marijuana milestone: a medical cannabis program so restrictive that doubts revolve about who will even use it.

Texas is the last great state that allows some form of medical marijuana, although it is an oil extract so low in the psychoactive component, THC, that it can not elevate a person. Although it might seem that lawmakers in Texas have softened their attitude towards drugs, bringing them closer to the US population. UU In general, they have not done it. A union could still lead to jail in Texas, and the adoption by the state of medical marijuana comes with a great deal of caution.

Among the concerns are the license fees to grow marijuana in Texas, which are the highest in the US. UU at almost $ 500,000, and that the program is being implemented with only eight participating physicians in a state of 27 million people. And, like other states, access is limited to a small group of patients who have been diagnosed with intractable epilepsy and tried at least two other treatments first.

"It's heartbreaking to be able to say, yes, you can get it," but when reading the whole law there are still things that we have to jump on, "said Cristina Ollervidez, 31, who lives near the border between Texas and Mexico and has three hours. of the closest participating doctor. Her 7-year-old daughter, Lailah, has a type of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and is in a wheelchair.

His daughter does not appear on the list because she has intractable epilepsy, but she still has days when she has several seizures. [19659003] "Seeing that Texas puts limitations, I get that part," said Ollervidez. "But I do not think they've done their exact research."

Frustration over access is similar in other states that have also passed restrictive medical marijuana laws. A Georgia legislator even sent a low dose of cannabis oil to his office from Colorado as a solution to his own bill, which allows people to possess marijuana but does not give them a legal way to obtain it.

Texas is similar to more than a dozen states that restrict access to a low-THC cannabis oil. However, Texas, which is 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) wide, authorized only three dispensaries, none of which is in the western half of the state or in fast-growing cities along the border with Mexico. And the Republican who convinced conservative skeptics to approve his law in 2015 does not commit to expanding the program.

That leaves Morris Denton, who runs the Compassionate Farming dispensary near Austin, looking towards the end.

"If" I am willing to have a long-term vision and are willing to suffer some scars along the way, that success will come, "Denton said." The lessons themselves represent a barrier to the entry of other people who can enter But I think it's hard to determine how, where and when to start a legal medical cannabis industry. "

Texas has also exercised stricter control over marijuana growers.The license fee is 80 times more than originally recommended. The Texas Department of Public Safety once proposed a fee of up to $ 1.3 million to help offset the costs of state patrols patrolling dispensaries, although that recommendation was later eliminated.

Producers are required to have video Each square meter of surveillance of your facility and to preserve the recordings for two years, which is longer than some police dashcam images must be retained in Texas, nor are they allowed to bring a third party to test the quality of their product.

The Texas law enforcement chief is Republican Stephanie Klick, a Christian conservative who strongly opposes the rec reativo de los drogas and that he did not Support the expansion of his law this spring. He said it took 18 months to gather enough votes in the Legislature and convince skeptics that patients were not going to abuse cannabis oil.

"There was a sheriff who thought that these children were going to be juvenile delinquents and in the end up in their prison And these are really sick children," Klick said, noting that lawmakers will consider expansion only after having seen the results of the current frame.

Only four states: Kansas, South Dakota, Nebraska and Idaho, have no medicinal marijuana form in the books. Seventeen others, including Texas, allow only medicinal cannabis low in THC, according to an investigation by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Kristen Hanson, director of an NCSL program, said Texas is unusual in requiring a doctor to "prescribe" cannabis oil instead of using the word "reference" like most states. The distinction is blamed for dissuading more Texas doctors from enrolling because, under federal law, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug without medical use and, therefore, can not be prescribed.

Dr. Paul Van Ness, a neurologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, is one of the few doctors who have registered in the state to participate in the program. He said he supports the restrictive nature of the Texas program, although he recognizes that the disadvantage is limited access.

He said he already has patients smoking marijuana, some of whom have been arrested for that.

"They did not do it." "I belong to the jail, but that's what happens in Texas," Van Ness said. "So, if they can do it legally, it's much safer."

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