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Bill filed to allow medical marijuana as defense in court for Texans

Rep Elliot Naishtat
Rep Elliot Naishtat

A bill has been filed which will allow defendants who are caught possessing marijuana for medicinal use to tell jurors that they are patients consuming cannabis for medical reasons.

Currently, defendants are not allowed to tell jurors that they are medical marijuana patients. That could be changing this year though.

Filed by Rep. Elliot Naishtat, HB 837 provides an affirmative defense to prosecution for those who as a patient of a physician licensed to practice medicine in Texas or their caretaker are given a recommendation by their doctor, provided the cannabis is for medical use only.

The bill would also protect doctors by preventing law enforcement officials from initiating an administrative, civil, or criminal investigation based solely due to a doctor recommending medical cannabis.

It also adds, “A physician may not be denied any right or privilege or be subject to any disciplinary action solely for making a written or oral statement that, in the physician’s professional opinion, the potential benefits of the use of marihuana would likely outweigh the health risks for a particular patient.”

If passed, judges would no longer be able to restrict defendants from telling jurors that they consume cannabis for medicinal use, and jurors would have the option to not convict the patient, even if the patient broke the law.

Naishtat, who represents parts of Travis county, has brought this bill in previous sessions, however it has not yet made it out of committee.

There have been two other bills filed pertaining to marijuana, including a medical marijuana CBD-only bill, and a penalty reduction bill. There are also plans to file a full medical marijuana bill by March.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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