Hundreds of Texans try to convince lawmakers to recalibrate marijuana laws

Hundreds of Texans lobbied lawmakers for marijuana policy reform on Wednesday at the State Capitol.

"It's not your 'stoners.'  You're looking at seniors, you're looking at people who are coming in with medical conditions," said Dawn Brooks with Texas NORML.

Last session, Governor Abbott signed off on a law that allows the limited use of cannabis oil which was a pretty big deal.  But only those with intractable epilepsy can take advantage of it.

The Governor made it clear he wasn't on board for much more leeway than that.

"I remain convinced Texas should not legalize marijuana nor should Texas open the door for conventional marijuana to be used for medical or medicinal purposes," Abbott said in 2015.

Heather Fazio with Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy says prohibition is failing.  So the point of Wednesday's group effort was to go from office to office talking with lawmakers encouraging them to support 3 important bills.

Fazio says one of them, Senate Bill 269 would make Abbott's "Compassionate Use Program" more inclusive.

"Currently it's restricted only to those with intractable epilepsy.  And what we would like to see is patients with debilitating conditions included.  That means patients with Cancer, PTSD, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain," Fazio said.

Dawn Brooks is also the coordinator of a support group for women's cancer wellness.  She says many of those patients have to go to other states to take care into their own hands using cannabis.

"You're looking at people with breast cancer, you're looking at people with ovarian cancer who have cured themselves," Brooks said.

Brooks says marijuana is beneficial to senior citizens like herself and it's easier to use than prescription medication.

"The opioids can be addictive, they can definitely be debilitating in the sense where you're just not there," Brooks said. 

Fazio says 2 other bills the coalition is fighting for would institute a civil penalty for having one ounce or less of marijuana.  So, a ticket instead of jail time.

"We want to eliminate the arrests, the jail time and most importantly, the criminal record that comes along with even a tiny amount of marijuana," Fazio said. 

Both of the Senate bills have been introduced and referred to committee.  The House bill is a little bit more slow going.
               
I did reach out to Senator Donna Campbell, she has reportedly spoke out against medical marijuana.  I reached out to her office for comment on these bills and she declined.

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