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Medical marijuana bill set for action in Texas

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Texas state lawmakers introduced legislation Friday that would allow patients with cancer, seizure disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

HB 3785, introduced by Rep. Marisa Márquez (D-El Paso) in the House, and a companion bill introduced by Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) in the Senate, would create a program through which individuals with qualifying medical conditions would receive licenses allowing them to possess limited amounts of medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. It would also direct the Department of State Health Services to establish a tightly regulated system of licensed marijuana cultivators, processors, and dispensaries.

“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 ailments of the aging,” Rep. Marquez said. “By continuing to deny access to patients, 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.”

The bills differ from previously introduced legislation that would allow access to CBD oils with little or no THC. Many patients have found that THC and other components of whole marijuana are needed in addition to CBD in order to effectively treat their conditions. Some have relocated to states with more comprehensive medical marijuana laws so that they can access whole marijuana and oils that include a more balanced ratio of CBD and THC.

“Since starting treatment with full spectrum cannabis oils [which include CBD and THC], our daughter has not had a single seizure or spasm,” said Dean Bortell, whose family relocated to Colorado so that his 9-year-old daughter, Alexis, who suffers from epilepsy, would have access to medical marijuana. “With prescription drugs, we never had a symptom-free stretch spanning more than 2 days. With cannabis oils, we’ve set a record of 11 days with no end in sight. The most important thing we have learned since arriving in Colorado and starting treatment is how vital it is to have access to the whole cannabis plant. Dosing decisions should be left to doctors and families, not lawmakers.”

Alexis' medicine, Haleigh's Hope from the Flowering Hope Foundation.
Alexis’ medicine, Haleigh’s Hope from the Flowering Hope Foundation.

Three out of four Texans (77 percent) think seriously ill people should have the right to use marijuana for medical purposes, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released in February 2014.

“Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (RAMP) welcomes the bills filed by Sen. Menéndez and Rep. Márquez and will be working to attract Republicans to the cause,” says RAMP political director John Baucum. “Ideologically, respect of the doctor-patient relationship places very high on Republican priority lists. Our job is to overcome many years of misinformation that singles out this one plant as off-limits for medical application.”

“Every year, thousands of Texans are diagnosed with cancer, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and other debilitating illnesses,” said Caitlin Dunklee, campaign director of Texans for Medical Freedom, which is supporting the legislation. “The suffering that these patients experience is devastating for them and their families. The bill being filed today would allow patients the freedom to access the medicine that can best alleviate their suffering.”

Twenty-three states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territory of Guam have passed laws that allow people with qualifying conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it.

This becomes the ninth bill pertaining to cannabis, and the fourth pertaining to medical marijuana to be introduced into the Texas legislature.

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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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