Medical marijuana makes its play for Texas special session
Medical marijuana supporters are making a bid to have their issue included in the Texas special legislative session called by Governor Greg Abbott.
A medical bill during the regular session earlier this year garnered the support of over half of the Texas House of Representative’s 150 members, the majority of which are Republicans. The bill also passed out of committee, despite opposition from the committee chair, but wasn’t scheduled to be heard by the full House in time.
Now proponents of a whole plant medical cannabis program are hoping they can convince Gov. Abbott to add the issue to his agenda.
“In spite of unprecedented support from lawmakers, Texas failed to improve the Compassionate Use Program during the regular legislative session” states Heather Fazio, the Texas Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, who also heads up a coalition group called Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy.
The Compassionate Use Program she refers to was signed into law by Gov. Abbott in 2015 which establishes a CBD extract program, a compound of the cannabis plant, for patients with intractable epilepsy. The program is slated to go into effect September 1 of 2017, however many doubt that the program is workable due to the wording of the law for prescriptions, massive costs, and lack of licenses issued.
“This special session offers us a unique opportunity: one more chance to stand for patients who were left behind by the unreasonably restrictive ‘Compassionate’ Use Act. Governor Abbott is the gatekeeper and he needs to hear from Texans that patients should be a priority! Supporters of this cause should not only call and email the governor themselves, but also work to mobilize their like-minded friends, family members, and neighbors.”
Fazio adds, “Those at the Capitol cannot adequately represent us if they don’t know where we stand on this important issue.”
Gov. Abbott has full control of what issues can advance during the special legislative session, and is the only person who can put medical marijuana on the table.
How often does such an effort for any issue work though, let alone the subject of marijuana?
“2011 was the last time I saw the people of Texas put enough pressure on the governor to compel him to add an item to the agenda. That effort was also about Liberty, a cause for which we all carry a torch…as Americans and as Texans,” Fazio says.
She concludes, “It’ll be tough to convince Gov. Abbott to put patients before politics, but one thing is for certain: no action will be taken unless we insist on it.”
The group is encouraging Texans to reach out to Gov. Abbott through www.ProtectPatients.org which will put people in touch with both the governor and their legislators.