Medical Marijuana for Texas?

A Texas lawmaker will battle it out next year in the legislative octagon in hopes of establishing a more comprehensive medical-marijuana program for patients living in the Lone Star state.

It was revealed earlier this week that State Senator Jose Menendez plans to march up to the steps of the State Capitol on Tuesday to submit a bill aimed at giving patients suffering from a variety of medical conditions access to full-strength cannabis medicine. The proposal, which would make Texas the 29th state in the nation to legalize marijuana for medicinal use, is designed to go a step beyond the scope of the current low-THC program by providing fair access to those living with “debilitating and chronic medical conditions.”

Although the details of the bill have not yet been published, a report from KHOU in Houston indicates that the language does not come infested with restrictions over the types of cannabis products allowed, nor does it specify how much of the herb a patient can have in his or her possession at one time. This has mostly to do with Menendez’ belief that affairs concerning the health of Texas citizens should not be determined by political forces.

“Doctors, not politicians, should be determining what is best for Texas patients,” Menéndez told HIGH TIMES in a statement. “This is legitimate medicine that can help a of variety people, from the grandmother suffering from cancer to the veteran coping with PTSD after returning home from war.”

What is known, however, is the bill would establish a network of dispensaries, operating in a manner similar to the average pharmacy, which would be overseen by the powers of the Texas Department of Safety. The proposal seeks to build off the state’s existing cannabis law (the Compassionate Use Act), which Menendez had a heavy hand in getting passed, by strapping the current patient registry to a fully functional cannabis market.

Considering the Republican domination that makes up the Texas Legislature, the bill could have a brutal fight ahead if it stands to go the distance in 2017. However, a spokesperson for Menendez’ office claims they are “cautiously optimistic” the bill will be well received when it is finally tossed into the lion’s den at the beginning of January.

At bar minimum, Menendez hopes the bill will receive a fair hearing.

“Twenty-eight states have recognized the medical benefit of cannabis, including conservative states like Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota,” Senator Menéndez says. “It’s time Texas steps up to the plate and provide real relief for our suffering patients.”

Although Texas Governor Greg Abbott is not exactly in favor of expanding the state’s medical marijuana program, Menendez said he hopes to persuade him to reconsider if the bill manages to gain passage.