To find the resistance, go to Texas.
Texas is a deep-red state floating in a sea of green. The Lone Star State is surrounded on all sides by jurisdictions — including another sovereign nation in Mexico as well as other U.S. states — with more relaxed and welcoming cannabis laws.
There is deep-red Oklahoma, where voters passed a medical cannabis bill last summer and where patients now widely enjoy access to cannabis. There is Mexico, the drug war’s main victim, passing key court rulings. All are doing it better than Texas, where patients must suffer the double indignity of having a “Compassionate Use Act” law on the books that is functionally worthless.
CBD oil is the only medical cannabis legally “available” in Texas, but access is granted only in rare situations and under controls so strict that one wonders if making access so difficult nobody bothered is the point.
Texans, including elected representatives, know this status quo is ridiculous. At least some of them are trying to change it.
The 59 Efforts for Cannabis Reform in Texas
This year, 59 cannabis-related bills have been introduced before the Texas Legislature. Among these bills is one that passed the Texas House last week that would expand the state’s limited medical cannabis program.
As the Texas Tribune reported, House Bill 1365, introduced by state Rep. Eddie Lucio III, would add several other illnesses to the state’s list of qualifying conditions. Common maladies for which cannabis brings relief — according to studies as well as anecdotes — that would become qualifying conditions under Lucio’s bill include post-traumatic stress disorder as well as Alzheimer’s and autism.
Currently, the only illness that allows a Texan to access cannabis is intractable epilepsy like the Dravet’s syndrome for which CBD oil is shown to bring relief.
More importantly, it would increase the number of dispensaries allowed in the state from an insulting three to 12.
Sounds great! But there’s a problem: other Texas elected officials.
The Republican Barrier to Progress
Another proposal to decriminalize petty cannabis possession seemed to have momentum before it met Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who guaranteed that he and other Republicans in the state Senate, where he serves as president, would block the bill. And it is the state Senate where Lucio’s bill now sits.
As the Tribune reported, two other bills that would expand Texas’s medical-cannabis program, introduced in the Senate, are both languishing in the “not called for a committee hearing” limbo. Far from wanting to expand cannabis access, powerful Texas Republicans don’t even want to discuss it.
Why? A spokesman for Patrick told the Tribune that the lieutenant governor is “wary of the various medicinal use proposals that could become a vehicle for expanding access to this drug.”
There’s not much need to parse that statement: Texas has a powerful politician who doesn’t want Texans to have access to cannabis, even if it means alleviating pain and greatly enhancing their quality of life — and contradicting the Republican Party of Texas’s state goals.
As the Tribune pointed out, Texas Republicans’ official party platform calls for state lawmakers to “improve” the state’s existing Compassionate Use Act. And a political consultant with ties to Patrick is part of a group called Texas for Expanding Access to Medical Marijuana, whose goal is very obvious. What Patrick and his accomplices in the Texas Senate will do isn’t yet assured, but the outlook isn’t exactly rosy.
The good news is that more enlightened places like Oklahoma isn’t that far away — only an eight-to-ten hour drive from some parts of Texas!