Families and medical professionals gather at Texas capitol to urge marijuana legislation hearings
AUSTIN, Texas — A group of patients, caregivers, and medical professionals gathered at the Texas State Capitol on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to allow hearings on critical medical marijuana legislation.
The group called on House Public Health Committee Chairman Four Price and Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Charles Schwertner to schedule hearings on HB 2107 and SB 269, respectively. The measures would fix the currently unworkable and unnecessarily restrictive Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP) and make it more inclusive.
These two bills would expand on TCUP, making whole plant cannabis available to a number of patients with debilitating conditions. The current program, passed during the 2015 legislative session, only allows CBD oil extract from the marijuana plant, and the only patients who may have access to it are children with severe seizures who have already ruled out a number of other invasive procedures. TCUP is expected to go into effect by September 1 of this year.
Amanda Berard, a pediatric nurse and veteran with PTSD who resides in San Antonio stated, “Since concluding my service to the U.S. Army, I’ve cared for and treated children with special needs, and I’ve seen what traditional medicines can do to their already struggling bodies and ability to develop cognitively. Children in other states are given an opportunity to thrive with the use of cannabis, which is often a safer and more effective medication.”
Amy Fawell, an Austin mother of a child with autism added, “My son lives with severe autism and traditional medications have simply not provided the kind of relief he needs to control his aggressive and self-injurious behavior. Medical cannabis is helping families in other states, and we’re desperate to see if it could help our sweet boy.”
A member of the medical community was on hand as well. Dr. Robert Marks, an Austin-based anesthesiology and pain management doctor, says that “Patients in most states are allowed to access medical cannabis when their physicians feel it is medically indicated. If it were legal and accessible in Texas, many of my patients, such as those battling cancer, could benefit from this medicine.”
Cherie Rineker, a terminal cancer patient who resides in Lake Jackson was also at the capitol.
“Opponents of this bill are trying to claim the moral high ground by saying they want to prevent drug abuse,” Reineker stated. “There is no morality in keeping medicine from sick and dying patients who can benefit from medical cannabis.”
Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy has set up a page where Texans can take action on these bills and contact legislators to have them scheduled.