While medical cannabis has established a firm foothold in 42 of this nation’s 50 states, the fight for the plant in the remaining states has taken front stage. Specifically, the lone star state of Texas has recently seen a huge battle between patient demand and complicated state politics. In an article originally written by Alex Samuels of The Texas Tribune, this battle is presented first hand.
With legislative deadlines for the year quickly approaching, many lawmakers have made a strong push for House Bill 2107, a measure which would allow qualifying patients to use THC oil for conditions like PTSD and terminal cancer. While Texas signed the Compassionate Use Act into law in 2015, a measure which allows medical marijuana and CBD oils without THC to be used in extreme medical scenarios, the bill clearly does not go far enough in the eyes of Texas citizens.
Despite House Bill 2107 having 77 representatives signed as contributing authors, many are worried that the bill will not even reach the floor for a debate. According to state representative Donna Howard, a democrat representing Austin, “(the bill) has the potential to provide vital treatment for children with severe medical condition.” While its intentions are clear, the bill has yet to be officially referred to the House Calendars Committee. According to Howard, “This makes it very difficult to meet Thursday’s (May 11) deadline.”
By not making the deadline, House Bill 2107 would not be a topic lawmakers could discuss in 2017. Despite this, Representative Jason Isaac notes, “We’ve known this whole time with the late hearing and the late vote out of committee that this would be an uphill battle. But we’re still pushing on.”
The political roadblocks which currently stand in the way of medical cannabis in Texas are numerous, making many patients in need unhappy with the state government. House Bill 2107 would allow approved specialists to administer low doses of THC under a patient’s tongue, a procedure which seems overly complex when compared to medical cannabis programs in other states. While many patients have requested access to cannabis-infused products, Governor Greg Abbott has refused to sign any legislation which directly legalizes the plant.
While politics is essentially the only thing keeping patients from responsible cannabis access, representatives like Issac are still pressing the state legislature to make immediate changes. “This isn’t something that’s cooked up in a lab. It’s made like olive oil, and it’s administered under the tongue,” Isaac notes. “It just seems absurd that we can’t give patients the freedom to use this because there’s so many stigmas around the word ‘marijuana.”
While medical cannabis has still yet to find its place in Texas, it will only be a matter of time before patients in this state have consistent access to the medicine they need. According to Heather Fazio, the Texas political director of the Marijuana Policy Project, “We’ve known for quite some time that a majority of Texans support legal access to medical cannabis.”
The overwhelming support for medical cannabis in Texas will ultimately rule in the day going forward. While some representatives have adamantly denied the future of cannabis in Texas, they will simply have to answer to voters in the coming election cycles. Patients in need will ultimately have the last say when it comes to medical cannabis in the lone star state.