Medical Marijuana Bill Promised in Texas by March 2015
A group leading the effort to bring medical marijuana legislation to Texas has promised that a bill will be filed by March 13, which is the deadline for filing legislation for the 2015 session.
Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, a coalition of groups seeking to change marijuana laws in Texas, held a conference call Monday night to discuss the bill, its status, and upcoming lobbying events.
Lobbying efforts are being headed up by Randal Kuykendall, a former lobbyist for the Texas Municipal Police Association.
He gave updates on the bill, saying that the draft was just recently finished over the holiday, though they had hoped to finish it sooner and have it already filed. However, there have been setbacks during the drafting process, and also problems with finding a sponsor for the bill.
There is hope that the bill will be filed in both the House and Senate as companion bills, and that conservative legislators will take the lead on guiding the legislation through.
Included in the bill is a system which establishes medical marijuana for specific patients, including those who have cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, and conditions causing wasting, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe muscle spasms. The state can also approve additional medical conditions.
To qualify for legal protections, a patient must suffer from a qualifying medical condition and must submit an application, a fee, and a written recommendation signed by a physician to the state. The state will then send the patient a registry ID card, which allows law enforcement to verify the patient is allowed to possess and cultivate limited amounts of cannabis.
Patients will also be allowed to have caregivers, and will be protected from discrimination in medical care such as organ transplants. Employers will be required to treat prescribed marijuana the same as any other prescription medication, meaning that patients cannot be fired for failing a drug test resulting from off the clock cannabis consumption.
The bill provides for four types of licensed medical cannabis businesses: Dispensaries, growers, laboratories, and product manufacturers — which may produce products such as salves, edible products, and tinctures. Patients may designate up to two dispensaries at a time.
An overview of the bill can be found here.
Earlier in December a bill was filed by Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) which would decrease the penalty to a $100 fine for possession of less than one ounce of cannabis.
Also talked about during the conference call is the need for people to get in contact with their representatives, and it was stated that they “can’t represent you if they don’t know you.” People were urged to be polite but firm, and while meeting representatives in person is the most effective way to communicate with them, both calling and writing are urged as well.
Several opportunities to learn about talking with representatives and then going to speak with them will be available, including North Texas Activist Training Day on January 17, P.A.C.T. Patient Lobby Day on January 20, and the Texas NORML Seminar: PTSD and Medical Marijuana on February 7. There will also be a Citizen Lobby Day on February 18. A list of other marijuana related events in Texas can be found here.
Also speaking during the call was a representative for Texans for Medical Freedom. The group is collecting stories from patients and plans to present them to legislators. They’re asking that anyone interested in sharing their story contact them.
The conference call can be heard in full here.