AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – More than a million Texans could be eligible to access medical marijuana through the Texas Compassionate Use Program, after state senators Wednesday unanimously approved a bill expanding the list of qualifying conditions.
House Bill 3703 is more narrow than one passed by the House earlier this month, but would allow patients with medical seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, terminal cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, autism, and ALS to obtain medical cannabis with up to .5% THC from a state-licensed dispensary.
“We’re just like everybody there, desperate. We want to save our son’s life,” said Amy Novacek. She and her husband, former Dallas Cowboys player Jay Novacek, never expected they would be advocating for anything related to marijuana.
“Everybody I grew up with… there was no drinking, no drugs. I was naïve to all that in small town Nebraska,” said Jay Novacek.
The family gained a new perspective, though, when, they say, their son was violently beaten while pledging to join a fraternity. “Now he has permanent brain damage,” Amy explained. “He’s unable to go to school, unable to work and he has multiple seizures.”
Last week, Blake suffered a seizure at the Texas State Capitol, while waiting to talk to lawmakers about gaining legal access to medical marijuana.
His family says cannabis worked for him when he tried it. “It’s not like we jumped up one day and said, Oh! Medical cannabis! That’s it. We’ve been through the system. We’ve been through the doctors. We’ve been through the medications,” said his mother.
The proposed expansion is facing criticism from groups it excluded. Joshua Raines, an Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient, has plead with lawmakers for years to extend medical marijuana access to veterans suffering from PTSD.
“I’ve lost more friends to suicide than I have to combat,” he said.
Raines admits he treats his own PTSD with cannabis. Without it, he says he might have died of suicide, too.
“I wouldn’t be married. I wouldn’t have kids. I was a monster without it,” he said. “It’s the one thing that works.”
Now Raines says, he’ll have to wait another two years, until state lawmakers meet again, knowing what he considers taking his medicine, the state still considers a crime.
HB 3703 now heads back to the Texas House, where lawmakers can either approve the Senate changes or take it to a conference committee. If approved, the bill would then head to the governor for his signature.
The 86th Legislature runs from January 8 to May 27.