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Opinion: Texas Representative candidates speak at Houston NORML event

On October 31st, 2014, Houston NORML held a fundraiser in the Greater Heights area of Houston. The theme, Halloweed 2014: Candidates, Costumes, Cannabis, was held the weekend before the midterm elections.

Several local candidates running for office spoke to the NORML crowd including Chris Carmona, Republican for Texas House District 148 and Cris Hernandez, Libertarian for Texas House District 126. Luis Lopez, Democrat for House District 132 had been confirmed to speak at the event but was unable to attend.

Chris Carmona for 148 with Jason Miller of Houston NORML
Chris Carmona for 148 with Jason Miller of Houston NORML

Carmona was one of the first speakers at the event, which was held at Dan Electro’s Guitar Bar, a venue located in his district. He is running against incumbent Jessica Farrar in a district that has traditionally been heavily Democratic. Despite Carmona’s disadvantage of being a challenger to a representative who has held that office since 1994, this seems to be a very close race. The Republican State Leadership Committee considers Carmona’s race to be one of the top “14 in ’14 Races to Watch” across the nation.

“First, I want to stop the misinformation that Republicans are against marijuana reform,” Carmona stated. “Republicans stand for limited government, individual liberty and personal responsibility. I am a Republican and I will support legislation to reform our marijuana laws here in Texas. But my position is a little different than some others. I have more of a risky position on the matter, because my support is not limited to legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. I believe that marijuana should be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol.”

“Marijuana prohibition has been an absolute failure and has created a dangerous environment especially in south Texas. We should no longer continue policies that allow criminals to own the market for this product,” Carmona went on to say. “Legitimate business owners and entrepreneurs should be able to compete with each other in a legal and regulated market place. As they do in Colorado, where they are profiting, investing in the stock market, investing in the economy, paying taxes, and creating jobs. It’s time for Texas to move forward with treating it like alcohol and have the government stay out of our business when it comes to responsible adults enjoying their lives.”

Carmona’s remarks were met with roaring applause from a crowd of about 100 people. Taking this position can certainly help him in a tight race against an opponent that has kept silent on the issue.

Hernandez then spoke, delivering an update about Shania Williams, a 4-year-old girl from Houston who suffers from intractable epilepsy due to a rare chromosome depletion. Her parents, Shannon and Stephanie Williams, recently packed up and moved to Grand Junction, CO. to obtain cannabis oil. Before the oil, she’d spend countless nights in the emergency room and has had over 20 hospitalizations.

Cara Bonin, Katy Regional Director for Houston NORML with Cris Hernandez for 126
Cara Bonin, Katy Regional Director for Houston NORML with Cris Hernandez for 126

One seizure in 2013 lasted over two and a half hours, and left her incubated in PICU. Her family has explored every option at Texas Children’s, including surgery for a VNS (Vagus Nerve Stimulator). The last straw was a neurologist explaining that one last option was a lobotomy that would possibly leave her blind, but would definitely not cure her. It would only possibly help reduce seizure activity. Since that was not an option for her family, they made the decision to move to Colorado for their daughter.

“Shania started a 17:1 (CBD:THC) ratio cannabis oil in August this year (2014). She has gone from status seizures every other day to once every other week – the longest hiatus lasting five weeks! Her smaller seizures have gone from every other day to once a week, the longest hiatus lasting three weeks! When she does a have status seizure lasting longer than three minutes, we have replaced using Diastat (a sister drug to Valium) with one drop of oil. Not only has the oil shown to be more effective for her than Diastat, stopping her seizure within seconds, but her postictal recovery, most of the time, is within minutes instead of hours.”

Shannon Williams with his daughter Shania
Shannon Williams with his daughter Shania

“In addition to a reduction in seizures, Shania has been blossoming developmentally. Her vocabulary has doubled, her balance, and weight have improved, and she has fewer tempers because she can now vocalize her needs more clearly. Those around her comment on how much better she appears, and how much more alert and happier she is now. She has not had to be hospitalized once since moving. For these reasons, we are 100 percent confident that our decision to move and start our child on cannabis oil was the right decision. Shania’s quality of life has been restored, and she can live as a child and not a prisoner in her own body.”

Hernandez went on to tell us more about how he feels about this issue.

“A disturbing trend triggered by the legalization of marijuana in some states, is the flight of families that, faced with no better alternative, must leave everything behind in order to gain access to an industry capable of producing high-quality alternative medicine. This is something I find to be a truly abhorrent, not only because a families choice finds itself at the whim of ignorance, but the very state of which I speak, thinks so highly of itself as a paragon of rugged independence and limited government. We in fact know this is not the case, but a fiction, conveniently evoked to shroud the encroaching actions of government into our lives and economic affairs, and especially for little Shania, into the treatment that makes all the difference between a life of joy and life of agony.”

“This is why NORML exists; for families like Shania’s, to educate the ignorant, to dispel the myths, to fight for those whose voice is made stronger by yours and theirs combined, and why I too fight alongside this worthy organization.”

It was great to hear from these candidates running for office in our State House of Representatives along with several candidates for other offices that also spoke to us. It was also great that our attendees got to hear some valuable information along with enjoying the live music and raffle prizes that made the event such a success.

By: Jason Miller
Executive Director of Houston NORML

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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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