61% of medical cannabis users in Texas said weeds helped them get out of pharmacy

Nearly two-thirds of medical cannabis users in Texas said weeds helped them quit opioids, benzodiazepines, and other prescription drugs. This is the result of a new survey.

Last year, researchers at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy conducted a new study to “gain insight into the needs and experiences” of government users of medicinal pots. From August 11 to October 6, 2020, researchers asked Texas residents who were medicinal cannabis to complete an anonymous online survey. Nearly 2,900 medical pot users, 22 percent of whom were military veterans, responded to the survey.

Four in ten respondents said medicinal cannabis had improved their quality of life, and 61 percent said they had replaced prescription opioids and / or benzodiazepines with cannabis. Eighty percent of all respondents said they used weed to treat chronic pain, and 52 percent of those with veterans said they used it for PTSD.

While this survey focuses specifically on the medical marijuana program in Texas, it also supports other research showing that cannabis can serve as an effective substitute for medicines. Over the past several years, researchers have found time and again that medicinal cannabis can help reduce the incidence of overprescription, use, abuse, and deaths from opioid overdose.

Texas technically legalized medical cannabis in 2015, but the researchers note the vast majority of patients are excluded from this program “due to government restrictions”. This law allows a limited number of patients to use CBD-based medicines with a THC content of no more than 0.5 percent. With most forms of traditional medicinal cannabis remaining illegal, many Texans are either forced to either buy a medicinal pot off-state or buy untested black market weed.

Even with their conditions covered under the state’s medical marijuana program, some patients are still turning to the black market, which is one of the only ways to acquire high-THC weeds in Texas. For example, 18 percent of patients with neuropathy said they used an illegal pot to manage their pain, even though the condition is covered under the state’s MMJ program.

Based on their findings, the researchers recommend Texas significantly increasing the number of conditions that qualify patients to use medical marijuana. The study also recommends removing the THC limit entirely, protecting medical marijuana patients from discrimination in the workplace and in the home, and decriminalizing ownership of smaller pots to “avoid criminalizing patients”.

Lack of access to quality medical cannabis has forced the vast majority of respondents (84 percent) to consider leaving Texas and moving to a state with a decent, advanced medical marijuana program. This finding underscores the divide between the Texas legislature and the views of the voters who voted them into office. Another poll earlier this year found that 64 percent of Texans want to fully legalize cannabis in the Lone Star State. Some lawmakers have at least shown interest in expanding the state’s dire medical pot program, but so far there appears to be little legislative interest in full legalization.

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