Blowing Smoke?

San Antonio senator blazes into 2019 legislative session with new medical marijuana bill

San Antonio senator blazes into 2019 session with new marijuana bill

A San Antonio lawmaker wants to expand medical marijuana use in Texas. Photo courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife

The 2019 Texas Legislative Session is less than two months away, and lawmakers are already hard at work. On November 12, politicos from across the Lone Star State began filing bills for the upcoming lege — and one San Antonio senator is blazing in with a new law to legalize medical marijuana. 

According to the Texas Tribune, more than 400 bills had been filed by noon on Monday, the first day lawmakers could do so. Included in those hundreds of potential new laws is one by Senator José Menéndez that would greatly expand medical cannabis use in the state of Texas.

Menéndez's bill — known as Senate Bill 90 — would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to treat a host of new conditions that qualify under the Texas Compassionate Use Program, the senator said in a release.

Overall, 33 states — including Oklahoma and Arkansas — allow for cannabis to be used in the treatment of certain medical conditions. Under current Texas law, marijuana may only be used in the treatment of "intractable epilepsy." 

Billed as "comprehensive and compassionate," Menéndez's bill would greatly expand the TCUP to include many other conditions, including cancer. Patients whose conditions qualify them under the expanded program would then be eligible to use marijuana as part of a doctor's prescription. 

"Doctors, not politicians, should determine what is best for Texas patients," said Menéndez in a press release. "Studies have proven that cannabis is a legitimate medicine that can help a variety of Texans including individuals suffering from opioid addiction, veterans coping with PTSD, cancer patients, and people on the Autism spectrum. Texas should provide real relief for our suffering patients."

Menéndez has filed similar legislation in both the 2015 and 2017 sessions to no avail. The San Antonio lawmaker was, however, a co-sponsor of the landmark SB 339, the bill that allowed Texas physicians to treat intractable epilepsy with cannabis. 

Overall, the grass is looking greener for the 2019 session. In addition to Menéndez, El Paso Representative Joe Moody also filed legislation on Monday for the complete decriminalization of marijuana — and he may not be blowing smoke. In June, the Texas Republican Party also came out in support of marijuana decriminalization.