People from across Texas gathered in Austin to show their support for changes to the state's marijuana laws. From medical marijuana to decriminalizing small amounts of the drug several bills have been filed. Supporters are cautiously optimistic some reform may come from this legislative session.
Sherise Nipper wouldn't miss the lobby day. According to her doctor she should be at home in bed. With the help of her service dog Pluto, a pitbull, Nipper navigated the capitol grounds. The 35-year-old mother of three suffers from epilepsy.
"Anywhere on a good day I could have five or a bad day maybe 20," said Nipper about the number of seizures she has any given day. Nipper has taken all kinds of medications. It wasn't until she tried CBD oil from cannabis did she find relief.
"I keep saying together we'll make it happen," said Nipper. "If they would legalize medical marijuana I might be able to go a day in my life without seizures."
The Nippers are fighting for medical marijuana in Texas and they aren't alone. They joined more than 300 people who organized with Marijuana Policy Project and Texas NORML to push for changes to the marijuana laws in Texas.
"The constituents are there and legislators need to know we're here because we want the laws changed," said Jax Finkel with Texas NORML. Finkel has been lobbying for the changes since 2005 and says Wednesday marked the largest lobbying day she has ever witnessed. A sign, she says, that the momentum is growing.
Lawmakers will consider more than just medical marijuana bills this session. State Representative Joe Moody has filed HB 507 which would take small amounts of marijuana out of the criminal arena and put it in the civil arena. He says the move could bring cost savings to counties that spend money to incarcerate people for minor amounts of marijuana.
"All of the things that help someone become a productive member of society are derailed early for something that's a non-violent offense," said Moody.
"The decrim bill is getting a lot of traction. We really hope the legislators open their hearts and show compassion to our patients because they are the ones who cannot wait," said Finkel.
"I'm never promised tomorrow. Any seizure could be my last seizure," said Nipper who had two seizures during our short time with her. She collapsed on her way to the capitol. Thanks to her family and service dog Pluto Nipper got back up determined more than ever to fight for what she says helps her.
"I want to make sure this bill is changed before I pass on so no one else has to go through what I've gone through," said Nipper.