Political Intelligence: Marvelous Medicine
March 03, 2005
Baker, 40, suffers from primary progressive multiple sclerosis and has found that marijuana relieves her pain, spasms, and tremors better than many of her prescribed medications—and without many of the debilitating side effects. HB 658 has bipartisan support and is co-authored by Rep. Naishtat (D-Austin) and Rep. Keel (R-Austin). It’s a baby step in the introduction of medical marijuana to Texas. The bill is written simply to protect patients who use the drug for medicinal purposes, not to make medical marijuana legal. It provides the patient with a defense for possession of marijuana if they can prove suffering from a bona fide medical condition and that they have had a discussion or recommendation from a physician about using marijuana to alleviate their medical condition. Unlike a similar bill filed in the 2001 legislative session that was left pending in committee, HB 658 also provides protection for the physician.
“They [medical marijuana patients] are trying to stay alive. This is not about party time—this is about healthcare. We need to protect them, not prosecute them,” said Noelle Davis, the Executive Director of TMM, during the day’s opening press conference.
In her lobbying, Baker highlighted the support medical marijuana and HB 658 have in the medical community. The Texas Medical Association recently adopted a policy that supports physicians discussing marijuana as a medical option. The conditions medical marijuana can help include cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis.
“Marijuana is a marvelous medicine. It’s effective, inexpensive, and safe—it’s impossible to OD [overdose]. It’s a damn good medicine,” said Dr. Dana Copp, a retired physician, to a legislative aide while lobbying alongside Baker.