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Proposed Texas medical cannabis bill still needs work

SB 269, which greatly expands the Texas medical marijuana program passed during the 2015 legislative session, still has some shortcomings.

Three points with this bill which must be addressed include home grow, the process for deciding which medical conditions qualify a patient, and the department which would oversee the medical cannabis program.

First, this bill must include a working home grow provision for patients who cannot afford dispensary prices, live too far away from a dispensary, or cannot obtain the strain from a dispensary which best treats their particular disease process. The bill does provide for home grow and generous amounts of allowable plants.

It protects most provisions in the bill by limiting what rules the “department” can make for many critical aspects of possession, paraphernalia, child abuse, and other important considerations. It does not protect home grow however.

It leaves all rules of cultivation up to the director of the department:

Section 5 of 487.052 subsection (E). “The Director shall adopt rules establishing security requirements concerning cultivation of medical cannabis by a cardholder”

This is a power which absolutely needs to be taken away from the auspices of the “department.” While this bill is in committee, it needs to establish the rules to protect the patients’ access to home grow.

If this bill passes as written then the department could, and from its past moves, will implement rules that will virtually make home grow an impossibility for those it would have been intended to help.

Second, this bill in Section 169.001 subsection (C) gives the department which will oversee the program the mantle to decide which other disease processes may be added to the list of eligible patients.

I question how many doctors are employed by the this regulatory agency who have any clinical experience with the treatment of cannabis, or if they have any doctors at all.

Finally, this program should not be administered by the Department of Public Safety. Research of the 28 states which have a viable whole plant medical cannabis program shows that 25 are administered by their respective state health departments. Arkansas’ program will be handled by the State Alcoholic and Beverage Department, Connecticut will be administered by Department of Consumer Affairs, and Michigan will be administered by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

There is not one that is administered by a law enforcement entity, the same entities who have been putting people in prison for the last 45 years for mere possession and shown opposition to any form of cannabis consumption for any reason.

For this reason, the medical cannabis program should be placed firmly in the hands of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Until these issues are addressed, many people, including myself, are unable to support this piece of legislation.

By: Arthur Mayer

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