Texans who were hoping that this session of the Legislature would see some movement on medical marijuana in our state should start bracing themselves for disappointment. The window isnâ€™t completely closed, but the remaining gap isnâ€™t that wide.
At the start of this session, the chances seemed better. Seventeen bills were filed to liberalize state laws on medical cannabis, but most are fading away. Two bills could fare better: House Bill 1365, authored by Rep. Eddie Lucio III, D-Brownsville, and Senate Bill 90, authored by Sen. JosĂ© MenĂ©ndez, D-San Antonio.
Lucioâ€™s bill would allow patients to use medical marijuana for conditions like autism, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder.
MenĂ©ndezâ€™s bill would also expand the list of conditions for which medical cannabis could be prescribed to cancer and spinal cord injury, among others.
In both cases, those additional ailments need to be authorized for treatment because under current state law, only patients with intractable epilepsy can use small amounts of low-THC CBD oil. Thatâ€™s better than nothing, but itâ€™s not much, and it was a product of the 2015 legislative session.
Thirty-four other states have gone further, and Texas should join them in this session.
Medical marijuana is not a panacea for any ailment, and it has nothing to do with recreational smoking. But there is no doubt that some patients with some conditions are helped by various forms of medical cannabis. Whether the effect is psychological or physical could be debated in some cases, but the bottom line is that some people with severe medical problems get relief from medical cannabis. There ought to be a way for these desperate people in Texas to find out if they, too, could be helped.
State officials are actually moving in this direction. Both parties approved platform statements last year supporting greater use of medical marijuana. Gov. Greg Abbott has even said he favors fines instead of jail time for people caught with small amounts of marijuana for smoking.
This legislative session should reflect that momentum. The House and Senate should stop talking about helping seriously ill people get access to medical marijuana and start removing the roadblocks to that treatment.