Lauren Castillo suffers from diabetes, scoliosis, nerve damage and polycystic ovary syndrome.
She is prescribed several medications, including morphine and hydrocodone, but prefers cannabis products that reduce her pain apart from her necessary medications.
She said that Delta-8 THC products, such as gummies and CBD cigarettes, have significantly helped her do everything she couldn’t do before, like spending time with her nieces and nephews.
“If I was in a lot of pain, my husband would help me get to the hospital for a steroid injection just to get around,” Castillo said. “Now I know I have a backup, like if I overdo it I’m fine. I will not have to go back to another hospital for a steroid injection and will be there for several hours. This is the next best thing.
A state bill that would ban certain cannabis products died last weekend, and local tobacco shops and THC users are celebrating.
House Bill 2593 contained a provision banning Delta-8, a cannabis compound made from hemp that is similar but less potent than THC. Senator Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, added the provision as the bill went through Senate amendments.
The House Conference Committee deleted this provision and approved the compromised 95-44 version, but the Senate did not take a final vote.
Sean Timmermann, owner of Gruene Botanicals, said many of his customers who use Delta-8 include people with cancer, PTSD, and joint pain.
“There were a lot of people who were heartbroken thinking that something that was helping them was about to be taken away from them through the legislature,” said Timmermann. “People come here and find relief. This stuff changes people’s lives, it changes their daily lives.
What is the Delta-8?
Delta-8 is legal in Texas and is a form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that gives psychoactive effects to marijuana.
The THC in marijuana is the Delta-9 THC that gets users high, while Delta-8 is naturally found in hemp. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant used in CBD products that contains only small amounts of THC.
Delta-8 is available in products such as gummy candies, flowers, and creams.
Timmermann said Delta-8 has calming effects and helps clients with pain or trouble sleeping.
“Delta-8 is going to be what I consider, heavy on the body and more indica,” said Timmermann. “What I have found is that people with body aches find relief from Delta-8 which then has a sativa effect for them because they feel better and therefore want to do something.”
Kimberly Ashley-Stevens, 53, has cancer and said Delta-8 had helped her relieve pain from chemotherapy treatment. She runs a Sonic restaurant in Cibolo and says she applies THC cream when she has trouble lifting heavy objects due to fibromyalgia.
“Delta-8 appears to provide longer term pain control of everything,” Ashley-Stevens said. “When I was in chemo, I had very deep bone pain in the middle of the bones. I don’t like drugs, so having them like candy makes it much easier to convince myself to take them.
Veteran Bridgette Simon, 32, said she uses Delta-8 products to help her sleep due to anxiety and PTSD. At first she was worried about using anything from marijuana, but her sleep improved dramatically after taking gummy candy.
“There was that stigma behind it and I was like ‘No I’m not about that,’” Simon said. “I can’t turn off my brain at night to fall asleep, so [Delta-8] makes me feel drowsy, but also relaxes me enough when I stop thinking about my to-do list or what to do.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in drug addiction counseling and said she found in her experience and studies that THC is much safer than other addictive mechanisms such as alcohol or pain relievers.
“As I learned more about how it tends to be safer than alcohol and stuff, I was like I thought we were making progress and accepting it and stuff,” Simon said.
Representative Joe Moody, D-El Paso, filed HB 2593 which would have reduced the penalty for possession of less than 2 ounces of THC extract from a felony charge to a Class B misdemeanor.
Castillo said she wants this to pass and for marijuana as a whole to be legalized, especially since her husband has a drug crime.
“My husband has a drug crime from 14 years ago,” Castillo said. “Today, until 14 years ago, he made a 360 degree turn and no one is giving up on this drug.”
The 2018 Federal Farm Bill legalized commercial hemp production, and in 2019 a Texas House bill authorized the production, manufacture, retailing, and inspection of industrial hemp products and crops.
A bill related to marijuana reached Abbott’s office before the end of the session on Monday.
House Bill 1535 passed unanimously and would expand the state’s medical marijuana program, the Compassionate Use Program.
This would make cancer patients and those with PTSD eligible for treatment with marijuana. Timmermann said it was a start, but medical marijuana is at such a low potency it feels like it’s not helping people enough.
“The medical program in Texas, in my opinion, is a joke,” said Timmermann. “My opinion is not enough to cure cancer and treat diseases that some of these products can really help with.”
Timmermann said Texas still has a long way to go when it comes to cannabis and marijuana policies, but he’s happy people can continue to use Delta-8 to improve their lives.
“I think [marijuana legislation] will sort of stall, at least six months to two years, like there’s no more fuss about it, ”Timmermann said. “But the industry is not going to stop at Delta-8, the industry is going to continue its research and do its part to help people. I really believe it.