Texas lawmakers are fighting to bring a comprehensive medical marijuana program to the Lone Star State in 2015. Last week, legislation was submitted aimed at legalizing the cultivation and distribution of cannabis for patients suffering from a variety of debilitating conditions ranging from cancer to post-traumatic stress disorder.
The latest proposal, House Bill 3785, is a companion measure to piggyback Senate Bill 1839, both of which intend to establish a statewide medical marijuana program, allowing patients with a recommendation from a doctor to have access to the herb. If passed, the Department of State Health Services would oversee the regulatory affairs of every aspect of the program, from cultivation to dispensary.
“The law currently does not reflect marijuana’s legitimate medical use and denies access to patients, such as veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, citizens suffering with cancer and severe aliments of the aging,” State Representative Marisa Marquez, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement.
“By continuing to deny access to patients,” she continued, “we limit the rights of families to seek the best possible treatment for conditions that do not respond to other drugs or therapies. We should create paths, and not obstacles, in allowing doctors to recommend medicine that has been shown to work.”
Unlike the proposal submitted earlier this year by State Representatives Stephanie Kirk and Kevin Eltife, a measure aimed at providing restricted access to CBD, the non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant, Marquez’s bill is a giant step towards the legalization of the entire plant in an effort to deliver effective medicine to a larger number of patients.
“Every year, thousands of Texans are diagnosed with cancer, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and other debilitating illnesses,” said Caitlin Dunklee, campaign director with Texans for Medical Freedom, adding that this legislation is exactly what sick Texans need.
In February 2014, a survey by the University of Texas in association with the Texas Tribune found that nearly 80 percent of Texas residents support legalizing medical marijuana for the seriously ill.
Unfortunately, Governor Greg Abbott does not appear to be a supporter of marijuana for any reason. During a press conference on Monday, he said that decriminalizing marijuana was not something that was going to happen in Texas anytime soon. Instead, he wants to continue pushing the state “away from activity that involves drug use and helping people lead more productive lives.”