Medical marijuana legislation is back at the State Capitol. Typically the idea has little chance for passage but there may be a window of opportunity this session for the Austin lawmaker who is pushing the plan.
About the same time the Texas medical marijuana bill was being filed at the State Capitol, a federal court was ruling that the DEA can keep pot on its list of dangerous drugs. Despite that courtroom loss, there is a chance supporters of medical marijuana could get a full hearing before state lawmakers.
State Representative Elliott Naishtat spent Wednesday morning roaming the house chamber looking for votes. For the fifth time the Austin Democrat has introduced legislation to allow for the medical use of marijuana. And for the first time his efforts are not immediately being blown off.
“I do feel a change I think it has a lot to do with what’s happening nationally more states have authorized the use of medical marijuana a couple of state have legalized marijuana,” said Naishtat.
According to the marijuana policy project, 23 states have either passed laws allowing for the use of the drug or laws easing prosecution for possession. Adding Texas to the map will be a hard sell to conservatives like John Kuemple (R) Seguin.
“The gateway aspect of it I think it sends the wrong message to the young people of our state,” said Rep. Kuempel.
According to Naishtat, his bill will not legalize marijuana.
“I think people understand I don’t have a hidden agenda with this bill. It creates an affirmative defense and will help people with bona fide medical conditions who have a recommendation from their doc to try marijuana, it will help them in the event they get busted,” said Naishtat.
Marijuana supporters claim the drug’s medical benefits range from easing migraines to helping with the side effects caused by cancer treatments. Republicans like Susan King- who has a background in the medical profession – will be critical in getting Naishtat’s bill up for debate.
“The knee jerk response is no, it’s an illegal substance, but I think if people will go beyond that and perhaps legitimate scientific research and what’s happening for patients who take it and have a an effect response maybe it can but what I do hope what will happen is it does get to the floor so we can have a substantive debate,” said the Republican from Abilene.
But before a floor debate can happen- the bill must get a Hearing in the Public Health Committee. To win that Naishtat will have to show he has enough votes to make the effort worth the time.
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