With the midterm elections fast approaching, politicians have hit the campaign trail. Many key battles are being waged throughout the country, and we’re seeing cannabis emerge as a significant platform issue. That includes Florida’s gubernatorial race, where Democratic candidates one-up each another over who supports marijuana more, and in Texas, where Democrat Beto O’Rourke must defend his pro-cannabis legalization position against incumbent Ted Cruz for the state’s senate seat.
In recent months, Texas has also seen marijuana become a major political talking point across parties, according to the Star-Telegram. Technically speaking, the state has a medical marijuana program. But it’s the most restricted legislation that exists in any state that has legalized medical marijuana. Under the Compassionate Use Act, patients with intractable epilepsy, and who haven’t responded to other types of traditional medicine, qualify to use low-THC cannabinoid oil for treatment.
At the Republican State Convention this month, we’ve seen activists try to persuade Republicans to expand access to medical marijuana and hemp, including the Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy hosting a pancake breakfast for the Republicans. These Texans are asking lawmakers to include more patient conditions into the legislation, like autism and other forms of epilepsy.
“Texas has a very narrow medical marijuana program,” Heather Fazio, coalition coordinator for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told the Star-Telegram. “Many delegates, just as many Texans, want to see it as more inclusive.”
A tough choice presents itself for parents who have children with those conditions: Either treat your children illegally with the medicine that works or leave the state. The latter works, if you’re willing to uproot your life to Colorado or Washington, but the former presents mixed results. We’ve seen a Georgia couple lose custody over their 15-year-old son after treating his seizures with marijuana. A few months ago, we also saw a Texas judge rule that parents who treated their daughter with severe autism using marijuana could remain her legal guardians now that she’s reached 18 years of age.
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Parents shouldn’t need to take on such risks, argues activists. “There needs to be more options and there are so many people left out,” says one mother, who moved to Colorado to treat her son’s severe autism and epilepsy.
But not all are so keen on expanding the current system. Via the Star-Telegram:
Patricia Silva-Duran is telling delegates how addictive marijuana is, so much so that her 20-year-old daughter was hooked. Her daughter, Madeleine, is now headed to court-ordered rehabilitation because she couldn’t stay away from the drug she has used since she was 15. Silva-Duran, with Texans Against Legalizing Marijuana, said marijuana is much more addictive than it was in the past. “If it is legal, (Madeleine) would want to start using again,” Silva-Duran said. She pointed out that a 2017 National Academy of Sciences study indicates “marijuana is addictive and harmful.”
While cannabis addiction is serious and dangerous, it’s also extremely rare within individuals. We’re also severely lacking in our testing of physical cannabis addiction in human bodies as animal studies produce limited results due to a lack of cannabinoid receptors, which humans have.