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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

San Antonio Lawmaker Wants to Fix Texas' Useless Medical Marijuana Law

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 5:30 AM

  • dankdepot via flickr creative commons

Believe it or not, Texas actually has a medical marijuana law on the books, which is a pretty big deal when you consider the rest of the draconian laws governing all things pot in this state.

The thing is, the state's first-ever medical marijuana law is practically useless — not just because it limits medicinal herb to extracts containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD oil, and only trace levels of THC, the stuff that actually gets you high. And not just because many other "medical marijuana" states, unlike Texas, allow for anything from CBD oil all the way to a big fat joint to treat anything from epilepsy to post-traumatic stress.

Texas' version actually contains a quirk that might as well have killed it: under the law, doctors have to "prescribe" marijuana to patients with intractable seizure disorders (rather than "recommend" or "certify" or whatever other legal massaging is necessary), and that's something very few doctors are willing to do so long as the feds consider pot a Schedule 1 drug (on par with heroin or LSD). Doctors who "prescribe" any form of cannabis could risk losing their DEA license to prescribe controlled substances, among other legal consequences.

So on Tuesday, state Sen. Jose Menéndez filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would bring actual medical marijuana to Texas (the kind 28 other states have passed), fixing the "prescribe" language and allowing any kind patient any kind of pot so long as it's under "strict consultation and recommendation from their doctor." At a press conference in Austin announcing his Senate Bill 269, the San Antonio Democrat was flanked by patients asking for expanded access to cannabis, including military veterans.

"Doctors, not politicians, should be determining what is best for Texas patients," Menéndez said in a prepared statement. "This is legitimate medicine that can help a variety of sick people, from the grandmother suffering from cancer to the veteran coping with PTSD after returning home from war."

In addition to supporting a bill like Menéndez's, marijuana reform activists in Texas are pushing for legislation that would reform the state's harsh criminal penalties for simple pot possession, hoping to make it a fine-only offense.

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