‘It was life-saving’: San Antonio veterans hope to keep delta-8 cannabis products on shelves in Texas

CBD and THC may provide medical benefits to users, especially those dealing with PTSD, veterans say

SAN ANTONIO – Cannabis products are on the rise in Texas. The options seem endless, with popular strands like delta-8 being especially common among veterans with PTSD for relief due to its accessibility and price compared to pharmaceutical medications.

However, Texas health officials argue that the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) -- the compound in cannabis that makes someone high -- levels are too high for consumers and want those products off the shelves. A judge in Travis County disagreed and recently cleared the way for sales to resume once again.

Another recent win for cannabis users is the recent expansion of the state’s Compassionate Use Program (TCUP), allowing more Texans access to prescribed medical cannabis. The program establishes a THC cap of 0.1%, which some users suffering from pain, anxiety, migraines, PTSD, and other conditions say isn’t enough.

“There are a lot of patients that have neurological diseases that need the THC to be higher in order to actually find relief,” said Viridiana Edwards, a U.S. Army veteran.

Edwards served for 10 years and was granted medical retirement after her deployment to Afghanistan.

“I received a lot of medications, and in the end, the medications ended up harming me a lot more than they did in helping me with my injuries,” Edwards said.

Asad Shalami, the owner of numerous CBD Zar shops in San Antonio and across Texas, is also an Army veteran.

“I got trained as a combat medic in the Army,” Shalami said. “I served two years in the hospital in Germany, where we received wounded soldiers from the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan and stabilized them on their way to the states because, geographically, Germany is a lot closer to those locations. After that, I served two years in Fort Hood, where we mainly did a trauma training for service members who are getting ready to be deployed.”

Shalami is an advocate of cannabis use for veterans after discovering natural cannabis therapy for himself.

“I was diagnosed with the chronic insomnia in the Army about 12 years ago, and I was suffering for a long time before I actually came across a CBD or cannabis therapy in about the beginning of 2019,” Shalami said. “And for me, it was life-saving because when you’re not sleeping well, it affects all areas of your life.”

Shalami said getting medical cannabis in Texas is complicated, expensive and limited, which is why he and his customers prefer delta-8.

“The State only gives, you know, a few number of licenses for folks to be able to sell medical marijuana,” Shalami said.

Shalami does not have a license to sell medical cannabis, which he says isn’t always the best option, even for those who qualify.

“A lot of veterans prefer (delta-8) because, unfortunately, not a lot of veterans have (the) money. So this is a much cost-effective option, right? As opposed to the Compassionate Use Program, which, unfortunately, there are lots of hoops to jump through, and it’s very costly for veterans to actually in go and procure that option,” Shalami said.

Shalami says this is why he and other veterans who have PTSD are fighting the State of Texas to keep delta-8 legal.

“Delta-8, it has been shown to, you know, help with all types of issues -- PTSD, pain, sleep, anxiety, and so on,” Shalami said. “Now, there is an injunction against the state that the hemp industry won. So, for now, we are fine putting it back on the shelf.”

Shalami, Edwards and other veterans say cannabis can help prevent suicides among veterans. According to the Veterans Administration, 22 veterans take their life each day.

Meanwhile, experts say there is a long battle ahead to determine exactly how delta-8 will be classified in Texas.


Texas said delta-8 is illegal. But state troopers haven’t made a single arrest.

What you need to know before seeking a medical cannabis prescription in Texas

About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.