Texas could become one of the next places in the U.S. to enact a comprehensive medical marijuana program, if the state Republican Party has its way.
On Friday, delegates at the 2016 Texas GOP Convention voted to add a medical cannabis provision to the party platform.
“We call upon the Texas Legislature to improve the 2015 Compassionate Use Act to allow doctors to determine the appropriate use of cannabis to prescribed patients,” the plank reads, referring to the need to broaden the state’s existing law allowing certain patients with severe epilepsy to use marijuana extracts that are rich in cannabidiol (CBD) and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
According to Heath Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the measure was approved by 78% of delegates voting at the convention.
“Marijuana law reform is not a partisan issue,” she wrote in an email. “Texans of all political persuasions acknowledge that cannabis is medicine and support the reform of outdated policies. This move by Republican delegates affirms the integrity of the doctor/patient relationship by declaring that patients should have safe and legal access to medical cannabis if their doctors recommend it.”
But don’t mistake the Texas Republican Party for a bunch of legalizers. Another platform plank spotted by the San Antonio Current reads, “We oppose legalization of illicit and synthetic drugs. We also oppose any needle exchange programs. Faith based rehabilitation programs should be considered as a part of an overall rehabilitation program.”
A section on welfare reform says, “Recipients should be required to submit to random drug testing in order to receive benefits.”
The Texas Democratic Party, on the other hand, supports legalizing and regulating marijuana, and not just for medical use.
“Texas Democrats urges the President, the Attorney General, Congress as well as the Texas Legislature, to support the passage of legislation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and regulate its use, production, and sale as is done with tobacco and alcohol,” reads the platform the party adopted in 2014.
“Colorado and Washington have successfully implemented laws to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and regulate its use and sale and taxing of marijuana,” the Texas Dems point out. “The Governor in his budget for Colorado projects 134 million dollars in tax revenue in the current fiscal year. We urge the immediate decriminalization of possession and use of medical marijuana. We support the Texas Legislature to study the laws and systems in Colorado and Washington as a first step in implementing a similar system in Texas.”
Even though the state GOP isn’t on board with full legalization, its support for medical cannabis could add significant momentum to push an expansion bill across the finish line in an upcoming session. The party holds significant majorities in the the state House and Senate, and Gov. Greg Abbott is a Republican.
Photo Courtesy of Lukasz Stefanski.