Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Medicinal cannabis passes. Good?

That does not seem to be the consensus.  From my inbox, Phillip Martin at Progress Texas.

Texas just made history on marijuana policy reform.  The legislature just approved a limited medical marijuana bill - and now it goes to the Governor. 

The bipartisan-backed Senate Bill 339 is a Cannabis oil bill (CBD-oil). While we supported efforts to broaden the law, the final bill is limited to patients suffering from intractable epilepsy.

This is a small reform that represents a big step forward for marijuana policy reform.

More than 22,000 Texans took action in support of reform this year and, with help from advocates and bipartisan coalitions around Texas, we promoted a serious public dialogue.


For now, let's enjoy the victory! We've just witnessed history.

Sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), the bill is extremely unlikely to provide patients with relief since it requires doctors to engage in conduct prohibited by federal law.

“On a certain level, the legislature should be commended for acknowledging the medical value of marijuana, and it is a historic vote in that sense,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Lawmakers missed several opportunities to amend the bill in ways that could have provided real relief to countless Texans. Not a single patient will be helped by this legislation.”

SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” marijuana to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions. By contrast, doctors “recommend” medical marijuana or “certify” patients to use medical marijuana in the 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws and the District of Columbia. Unlike “prescriptions,” recommendations and certifications are federally legal and protected under the First Amendment.

“Nearly half of the states in the country have effectively implemented medical marijuana programs, and I have no doubt Texas could adopt an even better one,” Fazio said. “We need a law that ensures seriously ill patients who could benefit from medical marijuana are able to access it. There is no reason to put it off any longer.”

There's more on the "is this a good thing or not" question at PT's Facebook page.  I'm not inclined to believe that just because the word "cannabis" appears in a piece of legislation that we have made progress.  But I won't discourage the good folks at PT who spent many hours on this and other bills only to watch the Lege let out a popcorn fart on it.

No comments: