On December 6, State Senator Jose Menéndez of San Antonio filed Senate Bill 269 which would increase the number of patients who would have access to medical cannabis under the Texas Compassionate Use Program.
Current state laws only allow patients suffering from intractable epilepsy the use of specific strains of medical cannabis.
“Doctors, not politicians, should be determining what is best for Texas patients,” Menéndez said at a press conference in Austin. “This is legitimate medicine that can help a variety of sick people, from the grandmother suffering from cancer to the veteran coping with PTSD after returning home from war.”
Among those who spoke at Menéndez’s press conference was Amanda Berard, a retired Army medic and nurse who said doctors should be free to prescribe medicine cannabis for severe and chronic pain. Medical cannabis has proven to be a safer and more effective drug than many prescription painkillers currently available.
“We are facing an opiate epidemic in terms of addiction and overdose death. In fact, states that allow access to medical cannabis for treating chronic pain have seen significant decreases in opiate overdose deaths,” Berard said.
According to a statement released by Menendez’s office, “Texas is home to 1.7 million veterans who are left out of the current program. After years of sacrifice and valor, the state needs to honor our nation’s heroes by granting them access to medicine that would treat PTSD, TBI, and other wounds of war.”
“Psychotropic and opiate based drugs have lasting and dangerous side effects for many veterans,” said Kate Cochran-Morgan, a retired Marine hospital corpsman. “As a service member in the United States Military, I fought for our country’s freedoms. I support Senate Bill 269 because my fellow veterans and I should have the freedom to use medical cannabis to treat the diseases that still haunt us.”
Other patients could benefit from the expanded availability as well.
“My son Miles . . . needs stronger and more reliable medicine than what is allowed,” said Debbie Tolany, whose son suffers from a rare endocrine disorder called hypoparathyroid disease. “I support Senator Menéndez’s bill because my son doesn’t deserve to suffer. He needs medical cannabis.”
Medical cannabis has also proven therapeutic for HIV/AIDS patients. According to HIV Plus Magazine, “People with HIV have long realized that cannabis can ease many HIV-related conditions, including nausea, loss of appetite, depression, weight loss, and neuropathic pain. In addition to treating common symptoms of HIV and side effects of antiretroviral drugs, research indicates that cannabis may help fight HIV itself.”
“Compassion should not be exclusive,” Menéndez said. “Twenty-eight states have recognized the medical benefit of cannabis, including conservative states like Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota. It is time Texas steps up to the plate on behalf of our sickest patients.”