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Texas GOP inches towards medical marijuana support

Republican Party of Texas State Convention Committee Meeting 2016
Republican Party of Texas State Convention Committee Meeting 2016 Photo by Arthur Mayer

The Republican Party of Texas took a small step towards showing support for medical marijuana in the Lone Star State.

Delegates from across the state met at the bi-annual convention in Dallas where policy for the party is set, typically in preparation for the following legislative session.

This year, all 266 planks were voted on individually. Usually the platform is voted on as a whole.

Some of those planks included repealing the 17th Amendment, which took power from the state legislatures to appoint U.S. senators and instead made them elected by popular vote in 1913. It also gives governors the ability to make temporary appointments until a special election is held.

Others included:

“We oppose the appointment of unelected bureaucrats and we support defunding and abolishing the departments or agencies of the Internal Revenue Service, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Interior (specifically, the Bureau of Land Management), Transportation, Security Administration, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and National Labor Relations Board. In the interim, executive decisions by departments or agencies must be reviewed and approved by Congress before taking effect.”

“Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nation’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We oppose the granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.”

“We oppose photo traffic enforcement cameras in the State of Texas.”

“We respect parental authority regarding sex education. We support the teaching of biology of reproduction and abstinence until marriage. We should prohibit entities and their affiliates that contradict our beliefs from conducting sex education and/or teacher training in public schools. We oppose all policies and curriculum that teach alternate lifestyles including homosexuality, transgender and other non-traditional lifestyles as normal.”

“We urge the Legislature to abolish civil asset forfeiture and to ensure private property only be forfeited upon a criminal conviction.”

“We support the return to the precious metal standard for the United States dollar.”

“We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed.”

“We support allowing consumers in Texas to be able to purchase cars directly from manufacturers.”

Planks touched on a myriad of subjects, even going so far as supporting the legalization of hemp, which passed with 71 percent support.

A plank concerning a limited form of medical cannabis caught the attention of many. It touched on a law passed in 2015 which officially made Texas a CBD-extract medical marijuana state. Critics levied many complaints about the ineffectiveness of the program due to its extremely limited scope, however the biggest question was if it could even get off the ground.

Originally the plank was introduced as, “We call upon the Texas Legislature to improve the 2015 Compassionate use act to allow doctors to determine the appropriate use of low-THC cannabis to prescribed patients.”

The issue at hand is that the law passed in 2015 allows doctors to prescribe CBD oil. This puts doctors in peril with their federal licenses due to marijuana’s illegality. Doctors could lose their licenses for prescribing an illegal drug.

Other states with medical cannabis laws get around this by allowing doctors to merely make a recommendation for cannabis, which is solely a state government construct and does not put their licenses at risk.

This particular plank called for improvement of the law, but still used the word “prescribing” in its wording, which will continue to raise concerns.

Several delegates testified in support of medical cannabis, with some who headed to the convention with marijuana policy as their primary concern. Attempts to raise the subject of reducing penalties for marijuana possession were shot down.

On the second day, a committee passed a new plank which while it did not update that wording, it did remove “low-THC.” Many patients require both a mixture of CBD and THC in order have what is called the “entourage effect.” These two components work together to provide relief, and in some cases, stop seizure activity nearly altogether whereas CBD alone is not as effective.

The final wording of the plank that was passed read, “Compassionate Use Act – We call upon the Texas Legislature to improve the 2015 Compassionate Use Act to allow doctors to determine the appropriate use of cannabis to prescribed patients.”

In all, 78 percent of delegates voted in favor of the medical cannabis plank, with a final tally of 6501 to 1804.

During the signing of the Compassionate Use Act, Governor Greg Abbott made the extra effort to state that there would not be in changes to marijuana laws while he is in office. This effectively puts the governor at odds with his party’s new platform.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas and serves as Deputy Director for NORML of Waco. 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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1 Comment

  1. Jacob Garza
    May 19, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Greg Abbott won’t be out off office until 2019