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STEVE ELLIOTT

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The Texas House of Representatives Committee on Public Health on Friday afternoon approved a bill (7-2) that would fix the state’s currently unworkable medical marijuana program and make the unnecessarily restrictive law more inclusive. The bill will now be considered by the Calendars Committee, which will decide whether it receives a full House vote.

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Public Health Committee Chairman
Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo):

One of only two votes opposing the medical marijuana bill
[Mignon McGarry & Associates]

The legislation gained significant traction after the committee heard testimony from patients, caregivers, medical professionals, and other advocates late into the evening on Tuesday. “One could not help but be moved by their stories and experiences they so bravely shared,” wrote Rep. Eddie Lucio, III and Rep. Jason Isaac to the fellow members of the Texas Legislature.

In fact, the number of representatives signed on as either joint or co-authors jumped from five to 76 — more than half the House — on Wednesday. The bill’s momentum is seen as a “notable achievement” by supporters, who acknowledge that the word “marijuana” scares off many conservative lawmakers, reports the Texas Observer.

Only Public Health Committee Chair Four Price (R-Amarillo) and Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) opposed the bill on the 7-2 Friday vote. The measure now advances to the calendars committee, where Chair Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, can schedule the bill for debate on the House floor. The House has until May 11 to consider the legislation.

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HB 2107, Texas’ medical cannabis bill, advances with an historic committee vote of 7-2.
[Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy]

‘Patients Over Politics’

“We heard from parents whose children have debilitating illnesses in which all modern medicine has shown no effects and, in some cases, has made their symptoms worse or led to addiction,” the two Representatives wrote. “We heard from US veterans who asked members to consider their military service and the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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Rep. Jason Isaac:
“I will continue to fight for this even if I lose elections, because it’s the right thing to do”
[TeachTheVote]

“We heard from patients dealing with the horrible pain of cancer and its treatment, who acknowledge that the use of medical cannabis alleviates the pain associated with chemo therapy,” the letter reads. “Lastly, we also heard from patients who have had to flee the state as medical refugees in response to the illegality of a medicine that is saving their lives. These Texans would be considered criminals for alleviating their pain or the suffering of their loved ones.

“In this time of divisive politics, we have found bipartisan agreement that the well-being of our loved ones suffering from life-threatening or debilitating conditions should rise above the fray of Left and Right,” the Representatives wrote. “This is for the father of the autistic child that can only control violent outbursts with cannabis oil, for the grandmother who suffers from tremors preventing her from even feeding herself without the relief from a plant.

“We will continue fighting for the patients suffering in Texas who could benefit from medical cannabis,” the letter reads. “Republicans and Democrats have united in this effort and will continue to put patients over politics.”

“I will continue to fight for this even if I lose elections, because it’s the right thing to do,” Rep. Isaac said. “I’m not going to stop shooting until the clock runs out,” Lucio told the Observer.

HB 2107 Would Fix The Unworkable Texas Compassionate Use Program

heather fazio texans for responsible marijuana policy
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Heather Fazio, Marijuana Policy Project:
“This is critical legislation that could dramatically help thousands of patients and families throughout Texas”
[Central Texas 9-12 Project]

HB 2107 would expand Texas’ 2015 Compassionate Use Act, which lets doctors authorize medical cannabis with very low amounts of THC — the psychoactive chemical in marijuana that creates the high — to patients with intractable epilepsy who have found at least two FDA-approved drugs to be ineffective.

Advocates say the current law is too limited, and, for the majority of patients, it has no impact at all.

HB 2107 would increase the number of medical conditions that qualify for the Texas Compassionate Use Program and allow patients to participate if they receive an official recommendation from their doctors. It would also improve the variety of medical marijuana available to patients.

The program currently only permits patients suffering from intractable epilepsy to access specific types of medical marijuana that have been found to be ineffective for some patients. It also requires doctors to “prescribe” medical marijuana, which is not legally possible under federal law.

“This is critical legislation that could dramatically help thousands of patients and families throughout Texas,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “It will make the Compassionate Use Program workable and more inclusive for patients with debilitating medical conditions.

“We are seeing an unprecedented level of support for medical cannabis legislation in the House of Representatives, and we hope the Calendars Committee will make it a priority to schedule a vote on this important bill,” Fazio said. “Seriously ill Texans should not have to wait another couple years for the medical cannabis program to be fixed. Lawmakers have an opportunity to do it now, and we hope they will do everything in their power to capitalize on it.“

Texans: Contact Your Representative to Support the Bill By Clicking Here

# # #

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.

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