Texas Veterans Call for Medical Access to Cannabis and an End to Federal Interference

On Friday, Texas veterans from across the state called on federal leaders to protect state medical cannabis programs and allow VA doctors to recommend cannabis in states where it’s legal.

(Texas: Tell Congress to help veterans and patients!)

DALLAS, Texas — Military veterans and medical marijuana advocates gathered on Friday in support of a recently launched mobile billboard and bring attention to federal legislation that could help veterans gain access to medical marijuana. The event is also meant to pressure Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) to stop interfering with marijuana-related federal budget amendments. Speakers included a number of military veterans, including Keith Crooks, a retired Air Force Major.

In September, Rep. Sessions spearheaded an effort in the House Rules Committee that resulted in two marijuana policy amendments being ruled “out of order”: one that would allow Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to discuss or recommend medical marijuana to their patients and another that would continue to prevent the Department of Justice from prosecuting medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal. This deprived the rest of the House from considering these amendments, including representatives from Texas whose constituents could be affected by their absence from the FY2018 budget.

“As a registered Republican, I would like to remind Congressman Sessions that the Republican Party of Texas supports state-level access to medical cannabis,” said Keith Crooks, a retired Air Force Major and forensic scientist. “We believe that it is our state’s right to offer this important medical freedom to our citizens. Therefore, Congress should respect states’ rights and allow them to regulate cannabis as they see fit.”

Presently, VA doctors are not permitted to discuss medical marijuana with their patients, forcing many veterans to go to other doctors in order to learn about it or obtain a recommendation that would allow them to participate in a medical marijuana program. This policy can limit their treatment options to powerful, potentially addictive prescription drugs, and causes financial and other hardships for those veterans who seek out non-VA providers.

“Cannabis replaces half of the eight pharmaceutical drugs I take regularly and should be legal for medical use,” said Juliet Giglio, a third-generation military veteran who lives in Rep. Sessions’ district. “It is unacceptable that our federal government, including my own congressman, would have veterans and other patients suffer while there is a better, safer alternative.”

Advocates are currently encouraging Texans to contact their lawmakers, Rep. Sessions, and Rep. John Culberson (R-Houston) to urge them to help veterans and protect state rights regarding medical marijuana. Rep. Culberson is a member of the congressional appropriations conference committee that will make the final determination of whether to include the marijuana amendments in the budget bill this year.

“Texas veterans are standing up against propaganda and in support of cannabis as a viable alternative to dangerous and addictive opiates and psychotropics,” said David Bass, a retired Army Major.

Texas Veterans and Medical Marijuana Advocates to Host News Conference

Event will feature new mobile billboard, bring attention to Rep. Pete Sessions’ interference with beneficial legislation that would protect state medical marijuana programs and improve access for veterans

* Photo opportunity at event; billboard image included below *

DALLAS, Texas — Military veterans and medical marijuana advocates will host a press conference on Friday in support of a recently launched mobile billboard and bring attention to federal legislation that could help veterans gain access to medical marijuana. The event, which is taking place in Anderson Bonner Park in Dallas at 11 a.m. CT on the observation of Veterans Day (November 10), is also meant to pressure Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) to stop interfering with marijuana-related federal budget amendments. Speakers will include a number of military veterans, including Keith Crooks, a retired Air Force Major.

In September, Rep. Sessions spearheaded an effort in the House Rules Committee that resulted in two marijuana policy amendments being ruled “out of order”: one that would allow Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to discuss or recommend medical marijuana to their patients and another that would continue to prevent the Department of Justice from prosecuting medical marijuana patients and providers in states where it is legal. This deprived the rest of the House from considering these amendments, including representatives from Texas whose constituents could be affected by their absence from the FY2018 budget.

“As a registered Republican, I would like to remind Congressman Sessions that the Republican Party of Texas supports state-level access to medical cannabis,” said Keith Crooks, a retired Air Force Major and forensic scientist. “We believe that it is our state’s right to offer this important medical freedom to our citizens. Therefore, Congress should respect states’ rights and allow them to regulate cannabis as they see fit.”

Presently, VA doctors are not permitted to discuss medical marijuana with their patients, forcing many veterans to go to other doctors in order to learn about it or obtain a recommendation that would allow them to participate in a medical marijuana program. This policy can limit their treatment options to powerful, potentially addictive prescription drugs, and causes financial and other hardships for those veterans who seek out non-VA providers.

“Cannabis replaces half of the eight pharmaceutical drugs I take regularly and should be legal for medical use,” said Juliet Giglio, a third-generation military veteran who lives in Rep. Sessions’ district. “It is unacceptable that our federal government, including my own congressman, would have veterans and other patients suffer while there is a better, safer alternative.”

Advocates are currently encouraging Texans to contact their lawmakers, Rep. Sessions, and Rep. John Culberson (R-Houston) to urge them to help veterans and protect state rights regarding medical marijuana. Rep. Culberson is a member of the congressional appropriations conference committee that will make the final determination of whether to include the marijuana amendments in the budget bill this year.

“Texas veterans are standing up against propaganda and in support of cannabis as a viable alternative to dangerous and addictive opiates and psychotropics,” said David Bass, a retired Army Major.

WHAT: Press conference to highlight recently launched mobile billboard in support of veterans who could benefit from medical marijuana and call attention to Rep. Pete Session’s interference with federal legislation that could help them

WHEN: Friday, November 10 at 11 a.m. CT

WHERE: Anderson Bonner Park, 12000 Park Central Drive, Dallas

WHO: Keith Crooks, U.S. Air Force Major (ret.)
Amanda Berard, veteran and pediatric nurse
Juliet Giglio, veteran
Joshua Raines, veteran with intractable epilepsy
Representatives of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy

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Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy is a broad coalition of organizations, activists, and community leaders dedicated to realizing effective, efficient, and evidence-based marijuana policies in Texas. For more information, visit https://www.TexasMarijuanaPolicy.org.

Act now: State-legal medical cannabis programs are in jeopardy!

Protect cannabis patients from federal interference. Contact the decision-makers now!
Since 2014, Congress has prohibited the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical cannabis programs. With an Attorney General who thinks “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” the provision is more vital than ever. But unless Congress acts to renew the provision, it will expire in 30 days!
Please take action now! Click here to automatically contact your federal representative and Rep. John Culberson (R-Houston), who sits on the committee that will make the final determination of what goes in the budget. A message will also be sent to Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas), who prevented these amendments from being included in the House version of the budget.
Let’s urge Congress to protect veterans, medical marijuana patients, and states’ rights.Click here to take action! Please forward this email to other Texans so that together we can ensure that patients have safe and legal access to cannabis in states that allow it.

Texas House committee tasked with studying marijuana laws

Let your legislators know a fine — not an arrest and possible jail time —  is a more sensible approach to simple possession!

Although the Texas legislature does not reconvene until 2019, marijuana policy reform is on its agenda in the interim! Yesterday, Speaker of the House Joe Straus announced “interim charges” that committees will look into between legislative sessions — including by holding hearings and reporting back — and one of them is marijuana policy.

The House Criminal Justice Committee, led by Chairman Joe Moody (D-El Paso), will “study current practices for the enforcement of criminal laws against low-level possession of marijuana” and “examine the use of alternative punishments and improvements to criminal enforcement mechanisms and community supervision.”

The subject is familiar to both Chairman Moody and his fellow committee members. Earlier this year, the committee heard testimony on and ultimately passed House Bill 81, Chairman Moody’s proposal to replace criminal penalties with a simple citation/ fine for low-level marijuana possession. The bill died after it did not receive a floor vote.

Please stay tuned for opportunities to be part of this important conversation between legislative sessions, during which time an estimated 120,000 Texans will be arrested for marijuana possession.

Contact your legislators today in support of more sensible marijuana policies for Texas! Then, pass this on to other Texans who support humane marijuana policies.

Texas: Did your legislators support marijuana law reform?

Texas Marijuana Policy
Voting Records for Texas Legislators, 2015-2017

During the 2017 legislative session, advocates for marijuana law reform earned unprecedented support from Texas lawmakers. More than half of the House signed on to a bill that would have established a comprehensive medical cannabis program. HB 2107 would have made the Compassionate Use Program workable and more inclusive for Texas patients. Did you representative sign on as a co-author of the bill?

Chairman Moody’s HB 81 would have eliminated the threat of arrest, jail time, and criminal record currently associated with small amounts of marijuana. The bill was passed out of committee and scheduled for a vote by the House of Representatives, but was beat by the clock. Forty-one members of the House signed on as co-authors of the proposal. Was your representative one of them?

Find out with two steps!

  1. Identify your Texas state legislators here.
  2. Find their voting records here.

Texas Marijuana Policy — Primary Voter Guide COMING SOON!
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WATCH NOW: Legislative committee to discuss sensible marijuana policy

Watch the hearing now!

Chairman Joe Moody’s House Bill 334 would replace criminal penalties for marijuana possession with a simple ticket. This proposal would allow at least three opportunities for an individual to avoid arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for the possession of up to one ounce.

Today, the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will discuss the bill and consider testimony. You can watch online now.

Do you have personal or professional experience with our state’s current marijuana laws? If so, please consider sharing it with the committee.

Submit informal written testimony via email to the committee clerk, Rachel Wetzel <[email protected]>:

1) Attaching a PDF file to your email is best. Try to keep it to one page, including all your contact information.

2)  The title of your file and subject of your email should be as follows: “First and Last Name — Supporting HB 334”

During the regular session, this version of Chairman Moody’s civil penalties bill passed out of committee and was scheduled for a vote in the Texas House. Unfortunately, the clock ran out before representatives could cast their votes. Today’s hearing offers us an opportunity to keep this important issue alive and on the table for discussion.

VIDEO: Texas patients ask Governor Abbott for relief

Ask Governor Abbott to add medical cannabis to the special session!

Countless patients are needlessly suffering because Texas’ Compassionate Use Program is unreasonably restrictive. Advocates are calling on the governor to make patients a priority during the special session.

Will you join them? Contact Gov. Greg Abbott today, and ask him to allow lawmakers to take up medical cannabis legislation!

ProtectPatients.org

Currently, the program is limited to allowing patients with intractable epilepsy access to low-THC cannabis, a variation of the plant that helps very few. Worse, though, is that the role of doctors is flawed, making them vulnerable to federal interference.

During the regular legislative session, we saw tremendous bipartisan support for a bill that would have protected doctors and made this program more inclusive for patients suffering from debilitating medical conditions. More than half of the Texas House (78 representatives!) — including 30 conservative Republicans — signed on to the bill, demonstrating an unprecedented shift in opinion by lawmakers. Let’s keep up the pressure, Texas!

A special legislative session is underway, giving us another chance to improve this well-intentioned program. Advocates including patients, caregivers, veterans, and doctors are calling upon Governor Abbott to add medical cannabis to the special session agenda.

Please contact Governor Abbott and your legislators. Ask them to put compassion first and put people before politics! Then, share this message and video with other Texans, so that they, too, can raise their voices for compassion.

Texas Action: Ask Gov. Abbott to add medical cannabis to the special session!

Compassion should be inclusive. Contact the governor now!

During Texas’ regular legislative session this spring, more than half of the Texas House signed onto a bill that would make the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive. Unfortunately, that bill was beat by the clock and was not given a vote. There’s a special session underway now, giving us another chance to bring patients safe and legal access to medical cannabis!
Only Gov. Abbott can add an item to the list of issues legislators can consider during the special session. Contact him now!
Texas’ existing law only applies to patients with intractable seizures. Let the governor know: Patients with other debilitating conditions deserve protection, too.
Many of the issues being debated by legislators are contentious and causing heated debate along partisan lines. Unlike those issues, the matter of medical cannabis has earned bi-partisan support.
Take action today by contacting Gov. Abbott and your legislators; ask them to add this important issue to the special session for consideration. It’ll be tough to convince the governor to add anything relating to cannabis to the special session, so we need to create a groundswell of support. After you take action, please spread the word. Texas patients are counting on us.

Sorry Texans: Medical marijuana still out of reach across state line

A new opinion piece appeared in the Texarkana Gazette that focuses on the inability for Texas residents to purchase medical marijuana in Arkansas.

There has been a lot of speculation on social media about what medical marijuana will mean to Arkansas and, specifically, the Twin Cities. The state line has always put the two Texarkanas in a unique situation, especially when it came to law enforcement. For example, for years the east side of the line was wet and the west was dry. Things have loosened up a bit in Bowie County in the past few years, but the Arkansas side still has a hold on hard liquor for retail sales.

 

Similar to the way Arkansas and Texas handled hard liquor sales, medical marijuana will only be available for access to patients who reside in Arkansas.

Marijuana for any purpose remains illegal in Texas and under federal law. Doctors have to be licensed in Arkansas to give the OK, and only Arkansas residents can obtain the medical marijuana card that allows them to buy in a legal dispensary.
Those who live in a state where medical marijuana is already legal, such as California and Nevada, and have a valid card from their home state will be allowed to buy in Arkansas. But Texas doesn’t allow medical marijuana. So if you are a Texas resident you are out of luck no matter what your medical needs. And we should add that mere possession is still illegal in Texas, and taking marijuana across state lines is not just a state but a federal offense.

Unfortunately for Texas citizens in need of medical marijuana, there is still no legal way to access dispensaries in Arkansas.

Texas: Ask your representative to support Rep. Lucio III’s amendment to protect doctors

Doctors cannot prescribe cannabis, but they can recommend it. Let’s fix the law!

Texas’ Compassionate Use Program has a poison pill: It requires doctors to prescribe cannabis, which is illegal under federal law! Please email your representative today to ask him or her to support Rep. Lucio III’s amendment that would protect doctors who participate in the Compassionate Use Program by allowing them to “recommend” cannabis instead.
In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed the Compassionate Use
Program, allowing those with intractable epilepsy to access medical cannabis to treat their seizure condition. Rep. Lucio III is planning to put forward an amendment to the Medical Board sunset bill that would make a small change, protecting doctors and bringing our state law in line with federal requirements.
Because of cannabis’ status as a Schedule I drug, it cannot be “prescribed.” It can, however, be recommended, and patients can be formally certified by doctors through the state registry. (More information is available here.) This small change does not expand the program, it simply corrects a small error and provides protection for participating doctors to make sure the program actually works. No working medical cannabis law relies on doctors “prescribing” cannabis.
Please contact your representative now; then, share this email with those who are interested in making the Compassionate Use Program functional.
Thank you for your support and activism!

Grassroots Action for Legislative Reform