Texas legislators confused about medical marijuana bill
There has been a struggle to introduce a whole plant medical marijuana bill in Texas because legislators seem to be confused on the subject.
So far a CBD-only bill has been introduced in the legislature. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 60 compounds found in the cannabis plant and it belongs to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. CBD is one of two major ingredients found in marijuana, along with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
CBD has proven medicinal effects which help with seizure activity, nausea and vomiting, anxiety and depression, and it works as an anti-inflammatory. It has many other positive medicinal effects as well.
THC also has proven medicinal effects as a pain reliever, appetite stimulant, and it helps with multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative disorders, and other neurological disorders. It is also the active ingredient in marijuana which produces a high when consumers vaporize, eat, or smoke the flowers from the cannabis plant.
CBD on the other hand, does not produce a high.
The currently proposed CBD-only bill would prevent the production of any cannabis strains with the THC compound, which would drastically restrict the types of medicine available to patients. It would also limit those who can be prescribed medical marijuana to a tiny fraction of patients.
A group trying to find a sponsor for a whole plant medical marijuana bill which includes THC say that it is important that Texas gets a proper medical bill the first time.
Heather Fazio, who works with Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy says that many legislators don’t understand the science, and don’t seem to understand why the CBD-only bill isn’t enough.
Cannabis is a plant which works best with all of it’s components together. She states, “if we isolate one cannabinoid (CBD), the plant loses much of its medicinal benefit. We want to make sure we get this right the first time and allow doctors and patients decide which strains are best.”
Many patients, even those who suffer from seizures, need THC present in their medicine in order for it to be effective as treatment. Several families have already had to move from Texas to Colorado to get treatment for their children who experience severe seizures.
While the group has found several Democrats who are interested in sponsoring the bill, they would prefer that it be introduced by a Republican.
Republicans comprise nearly two-thirds of both the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate.
With a deadline to file legislation coming up on March 13, the group is hopeful that they will find a Republican sponsor, but will have a Democrat sponsor the bill if needed.
Support for medical marijuana stands at around 58 percent in Texas according to recent polling, and last week around 300 people went to the capitol to lobby for both medical marijuana and penalty reduction for small amounts of cannabis.
Currently there are six pieces of legislation pertaining to cannabis which have been introduced in the legislature, all sponsored by Republicans, which include CBD-only medical marijuana, penalty reduction, affirmative defense in court for patients, and hemp cultivation.
“The tightly regulated medical marijuana program we want to see implemented in Texas would restore the integrity of the doctor/patient relationship,” states Fazio. “It’s surprising that we don’t see more Republicans eager to get government out of the doctor’s office.”
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