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Texas legislator won’t allow vote on medical marijuana bill

Rep. Myra Crownover (R) Denton
Rep. Myra Crownover (R) Denton

A Texas legislator who chairs the Public Health Committee in the state legislature is set to let a medical marijuana bill expire rather than schedule it for a vote in committee.

Rep. Myra Crownover, a Republican out of Denton, along with other members of the committee, recently listened to well over five hours of testimony in favor of House Bill 3785. Over 70 people testified in favor of the whole plant bill which would establish a medical regulatory system similar to the 23 other states which have legalized cannabis for medicinal use. No one testified in opposition to the bill.

Despite such testimony which often had everyone in the room crying at times, Crownover has stated that “there are still a lot of questions to be answered” about the legislation, indicating that it would not receive a vote before the May 11 deadline.

The House Public Health Commitee chair’s comments came after a discussion in which she said she had heard “compelling” testimony about possible benefits of marijuana for medical conditions but wanted to study how legalization has played out in states such as Colorado and California.

Now marijuana coalition groups throughout the state are urging Texans to call Crownover’s office to ask that she put the legislation up for a vote. In particular, they are seeking residents in her district to reach out.

Shaun McAlister, the executive director of the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, DFW NORML, said that making such a call would be one of the most important things anyone could do this year.

“Now more than ever, it is important for Texans to pick up the phone and be heard in Austin. A call to Myra Crownover’s capitol office this week is worth more than a hundred Facebook posts, Tweets and Instagram videos for the next six months,” McAlister stated. “So if you’re serious about bringing properly regulated, whole plant medical cannabis to the state of Texas, make a call. Then make sure your friends do the same.”

A group called Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is also involved in the process, and are one of the main backers of the bill, which was filed by Rep. Marisa Marquez of El Paso.

A spokesperson for that group, Heather Fazio, says that “Chairwoman Crownover needs to hear from her constituents in Denton now more than ever. She holds the key to medical marijuana’s path forward.”

Texas Marijuana Policy Advocacy Workshops — January 2018
Texas Marijuana Policy Advocacy Workshops — January 2018

Another bill, House Bill 837, which provides an affirmative defense to patients in court who have a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana, is slated for the same fate.

Jax Finkel with Texas NORML says that HB 837 shouldn’t be forgotten.

“With so many great pieces of cannabis legislation, we cannot forget HB 837. CBD only bills help a very limited amount of patients with intractable epilepsy. HB 3785 offers a whole plant medical cannabis programs to 10 specific health issues with a provision for more conditions to be added. But what about the patients that do not fall under either of these bill’s umbrellas? They need to have a legal protection and HB 837 would do just that” Finkel states.

She adds, “it would give an affirmative defense to patients and their caregiver. It would also restore the Doctor/Patient relationship and protect doctors’ ability to discuss this option with their patients. This is a safety net that sick Texans need. Please make sure to support HB 837 in these last few weeks of the session. If it does not get a vote by May 11, it will die in committee.”

Rep. Crownover’s office may be reached at (512) 463-0582.

By: Stephen Carter

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 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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