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More Texans will have access to medical marijuana this week, but the state lags in cannabis reform 

While Texas will this week expand medical access to marijuana, its reform efforts are way behind those of other states. - MICHAEL FISCHER / PIXELS
  • Michael Fischer / Pixels
  • While Texas will this week expand medical access to marijuana, its reform efforts are way behind those of other states.

One of the few things to celebrate coming out of the past session of the Texas Legislature was an expansion of the state's Compassionate Use Program. 

A new law that goes into effect Wednesday, September 1, will let people with any form of cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder legally access low-THC cannabis. They join those with conditions such as epilepsy and autism who already had access to the state's medical cannabis program — one of the most restrictive in the country.

But before anyone declares the expansion a major victory for marijuana legalization here, let's get a little perspective by looking at laws in surrounding states.

Texas' four bordering states have all gone further to reform cannabis laws, from making it fully legal for recreational use, as New Mexico did this summer, to giving it substantial medical clearance, as per Arkansas, according to an analysis by the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for less-restrictive weed laws.

Louisiana this year reduced penalties for possession of small amounts to a fine not to exceed $100, and Oklahoma's medical marijuana programs has grown into one of the largest in the country.

Indeed, according to MPP's count, Texas is one of just 11 states that's not legalized weed, decriminalized it or enacted rules granting significant medical access to it.

With the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature piling its plate with culture war issues and efforts to restrict voting during this summer's special session, looks like pot advocates better not hold their breath looking for substantial reforms in the Lone Star State.

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