Texas could become the next state to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana.State Senator Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) will fill a bill on Tuesday, December 6, to allow people with debilitating and chronic medical conditions to get medical cannabis with a recommendation from their doctor, his office said on Monday, reports Adam Bennett at KHOU.
Under the proposed legislation, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, HIV, severe pain and nausea, and Parkinson’s would qualify for medical marijuana. Sen. Menendez said he believes veterans in pain but who don’t want to risk addiction and side effects from harsh pharmaceutical painkillers could especially benefit from medical cannabis.
The bill doesn’t specify the amount of marijuana that patients can get, and in what form, because Sen. Menendez believes doctors — not politicians — should make that call, said Dwight Clark, legislative director for the Senator.
Patients would get cannabis through a network of private dispensaries regulated under “strict guidelines” by the Texas Department of Public Safety, according to Clark.
Texas would use existing infrastructure and build upon a registry already established under the Compassionate Use Act, also known as SB 339. That was a 2015 law co-authored by Menendez that allows patients with intractable epilepsy to use low-THC, high CBD cannabis oil.
Patients registering with the state would show a card to verify their medical marijuana patient status at dispensaries. The transaction would then be logged into a databse to protect against “abuse.” DPS would monitor all activity.
The program would be cost neutral, according to Clark, because expenses would be offset by licensing and registration fees paid by cultivators and dispensary operators.
Sen. Menendez is “cautiously optimistic” the bill could pass, but he added he’s a “realist” and understand the conservative makeup of the Texas Legislature.
“I would hope that people don’t just refuse to listen to the up side of this without an open public hearing,” said Menendez. The Senator added he hopes to build on the success of last year’s SB 339.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has flatly vowed he “won’t allow” medical marijuana. Menendez said if his bill passes, he’d like to arrange a meeting with the Governor, at which doctors and veterans would also be present.
The 85th Texas Legislature convenes on January 10, 2017.