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Government/Politics

GOP Leaders Not Ready To Say Yes To Medical Marijuana in Texas

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One of the policy items that won overwhelming support at this weekend’s state GOP convention was a directive that lawmakers pass legislation in 2017 that would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients.  But an effort to expand Texas’ marijuana laws may be over before they even begin.

In 2015, state lawmakers passed landmark legislation called the Compassionate Use Act. It set up regulations for a system of dispensaries, grow operations and production facilities for CBD oil, a component of the marijuana plant that the state made legal for the treatment of intractable epilepsy.

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Credit Ryan Poppe / Texas
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Texas

But during the bill’s signing that same year, Gov. Greg Abbott made it very clear he would never support any effort that open the door for the legalization of marijuana in Texas.

“I remain convinced that Texas should not legalize marijuana, nor should Texas open the door for conventional marijuana to be used for medical or medicinal purposes and as governor I will not allow it," Abbott adamantly said.

Abbott’s position has not changed, according to a statement from the Governor’s Office following the release of the state party platform.

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Credit Ryan Poppe / Texas
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Texas
Ann Lee, Executive Director of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition

But marijuana activists like 85-year-old Ann Lee, who founded the organization, Republicans Against the Prohibition of Marijuana is optimistic about the possibilities.  Lee said having it in the party’s platform sends the message that the party as a whole acknowledges that there are people suffering from medical conditions beyond epilepsy who could benefit from a doctor’s advice to use marijuana.

“That seems so ridiculous for me, because there are so many reasons to use it. Someone the other day told me their daughter got off heroin using marijuana, the veterans with PTSD, need it," Lee said.

Longview Republican Rep. David Simpson said he’d definitely support any effort in the Texas Legislature that expands the current rules for the state’s Compassionate Use Act. 

“We don’t need government in medicine, there’s a place for dealing with fraud, there’s a place for holding someone accountable when they harm someone but really the plant, the whole plant should be used and I will continue to support that and I will certainly consider assisting in that process," Simpson said.

During past legislative sessions, Simpson authored other bills to open Texas up to medical marijuana, including one that said Texas should end the prohibition of marijuana because of biblical reason and cited scripture verses in his legislation.

Some 78 percent of the convention’s 6,000 delegates voted in favor of creating a medical marijuana law in Texas that allows doctors to prescribe marijuana. But then patients would be on the own in finding ways to retrieve the plants by-products.