Advocates for reform make their case citing increased public support and bipartisan backing
AUSTIN – The Texas Legislature has been in session for six weeks and dozens of marijuana-related bills have been introduced, including eight proposals to amend the state’s medical marijuana laws.
Advocates with Texas for Responsible Marijuana Policy are making their case at the State Capitol with a week-long exhibit, including displays featuring information about medical professionals and organizations who recognize the benefits of marijuana. We’re also featuring stories of Texans who have had to leave the state in order to access medical marijuana elsewhere. (Video tour.)
Under current law, those with intractable epilepsy have limited access to medical marijuana through the DPS regulated Compassionate Use Program. Since being enacted in 2015, the program has served less than 600 people statewide. Advocates say it’s time to open up the program to those with other debilitating medical conditions.
“Nearly 70% of Americans live in a state that has passed legislation allowing legal access to marijuana for medical purposes, including every state surrounding Texas,” says Jax Finkel, with the Foundation for an Informed Texas. “Most recently, Oklahoma, Utah, and Missouri have adopted laws allowing patients to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.”
Public opinion has shifted dramatically in recently years and medical marijuana is now supported by more than 80% of Texas voters, according to the most recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. Even in conservative circles, approval is staggering. At their state convention last summer, the Texas GOP reaffirmed their support for legislative action to “allow doctors to determine the appropriate use of cannabis for certified patients.”
Mounting evidence from US and international research demonstrates proven efficacy of marijuana for certain medical conditions. In 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a “rigorous review of relevant scientific research published since 1999.” Their review found cannabis to be helpful for those suffering from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Researchers at the Salk Institute published a report in 2016 showing cannabis as an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and Israeli Israeli researchers have linked cannabis as an effective treatment for Crohn’s disease.
Dozens of marijuana-related bills have been filed, including eight proposals to expand access through the Compassionate Use Program. Advocates are optimistic that growing evidence and public support will sway lawmakers this year.
Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is a nonprofit advocacy organization working with a broad political coalition to advance sensible marijuana law reform in Texas. Contribute toward our efforts here and sign up for email notifications/action alerts.