It’s been a brutally tough month for cannabis advocates in Texas. Texas’ Medical Marijuana Bill 2107, the first comprehensive medical marijuana bill to clear a committee in the state’s history, originally was seen as a longshot for passage. But support for the bipartisan measure was picking up stream and passage — considered by many experts to be a political miracle — appeared possible.
But last week, despite a series of frantic moves by those championing the cause, the bill died on the vine. It was a maddening conclusion to a campaign that could have been a landmark law in a state not normally friendly to the cannabis industry.
The state’s Public Health Committee approved the bill by a vote of 7 to 2. Political insiders said the bill would most likely be approved by the full House if brought up for a vote, because 77 of 150 House members were co-authors of the legislation.
But 11th-hour bureaucratic wrangling sent the measure down to defeat. The legislation would have increased the number of medical conditions that qualify for the Texas Compassionate Use Program. It also would allow patients to consume medical marijuana if they had a doctor’s recommendation.
Neal Pollack, a Texas-based reporter for The Cannabist, wrote a compelling behind-the-scenes timeline of how the legislation came oh-so-close to passing.
Even though the law failed to pass this year, advocates in Texas are not giving up. Wrote Pollack:
Meanwhile, activists are going to have to spend another legislative session looking to gain rights that, by 2019, likely will be commonplace throughout much of the country. Heather Fazio [Texas political director of The Marijuana Policy Project] says it’s “going to be a campaign issue.”
“People want someone’s head on a pitchfork,”Texas NORML’s [Jay] Finkel said after the bill’s demise. “They are frustrated and angry. And you know what? They should be. They are dying. It’s awful. But they’re going to have to get involved during the full cycle…We finally find this bipartisan bill that so many people could agree on, and it was too late.”
One thing is certain: The groundswell of support for medical marijuana continues to grow in Texas.