Posted on January 30, 2013 by News Admin
While it might be a longshot, a Texas lawmaker is trying (for the sixth time) to get medical marijuana on the books in the Lone Star State.
State rep. Elliot Naishtat, a democrat from Austin, is sponsoring the
bill which would allow for physicians to recommend medical cannabis
(called "marihuana" in the bill) for patients with qualifying
conditions. Possession of cannabis would be legal so long as a doctor
had signed off on it. The bill would also protect physicians from having
their licenses stripped for making the recommendation. Otherwise,
that's really all there is to the page-and-a-half long bill. No mention
of plant limits, possession limits, or anything like that.
"This bill does not legalize marijuana or anything," Naishtat said to San Antonio TV station KENS. "It creates an affirmative defense so if you have a bona fide medical condition and a doctor has suggested that you try marijuana for medicinal purposes, if you get arrested you can go before a judge and you can say 'look at me your honor, I'm not a criminal. I have multiple sclerosis, I'm in a wheelchair' or 'I have AIDS,' and the judge could say 'go home.'"
The bill makes sense any way you slice it, but especially so considering Houston is known as one of the best cities in America to receive cancer treatment, namely through the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
But the unfortunate reality is that Naishtat's bill probably doesn't have much of a chance to succeed in the conservative political climate of Texas. Some have speculated that's why the bill really hasn't been rewritten since it's original form several years ago, despite other states passing much more comprehensive plans. Even the Texas NORML chapter says so, though they are supporting it anyway. As the folks over at the (awesome) Austin/University of Texas-related blog, The Horn, reported earlier this week, Texas NORML director Josh Schimberg was critical of the bill:
"In my personal opinion, HB 594 does not go far enough," Schimberg told reporter Maria Roque. "It does not prevent medical marijuana patients from being arrested, as it should. It does not provide for a legal means of patients to get their medical marijuana... That being said, Texas NORML is supporting the bill because it would allow doctors to talk with their patients about medical marijuana, something that is not currently allowed, and would provide them with an affirmative defense in court."Naishtat's bill is not the only marijuana legislation floating around the state capitol in Austin. Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston is pushing a bill that would make possession of an ounce or less a Class C misdemeanor with the maximum fine set at $500 and no mandatory jail time. Currently, possession of an ounce is a Class B misdemeanor, and would get you 180 days in jail and nearly two grand in fines. This is the second time Dutton has tried to pass such legislation, though it never made it out of committee when first presented in 2011.
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