Medical Marijuana Bill In Texas Legislature

April 04, 2005

, KXAN - TV36 (Austin)

It's a subject that can be a political taboo. Using medical reasons as a legal defense for having marijuana got its first hearing in the Texas Legislative session.

There was a House committee hearing on it Tuesday. Supporters say all they want is medical use of marijuana to be a valid defense in court if someone's arrested for possession.

'I went to sniper school in 1993, went to Ranger school in 1991,' 'Steve' said.

News 36 is hiding his identity, but around Steve's apartment in Austin, you see signs of high level discipline.

'I spent 11 years in the military travelling all over the world. I was a jump master, Ranger, sniper,' 'Steve' said.

He also worked undercover narcotics. So it's ironic a man who has a marijuana eradication patch, would now own a bong.

He says he uses pot because of cyclic vomiting syndrome that once dropped his weight to 98 pounds.

'Vomiting in cycles from 10, 15, to 20 times an hour, non stop for 13 days,' 'Steve' said, 'Marijuana doesn't alleviate the symptoms or completely circumvent the problems that I have, but it gives me a sense of relief I can't find in any other way.'

At a committee hearing, there was a litany of testimony from people who've used marijuana to lessen pain and spasms or increase appetite from sickness.

They want a law allowing medical use to be a court defense if someone's arrested with pot.

'It does not legalize anything. It creates an affirmative defense to let the jury decide if this is a legitimate medicinal use of medicinal marijuana,' bill sponsor State Rep. Elliott Naishtat said.

There are critics.

Governor Rick Perry doesn't support the bill. His office says the bill would encourage illicit drug use, and the state needs to focus on curbing that.

'I'm not a criminal. I'm not. I'm somebody that wants to live,' 'Steve' said.

Another critic of the bill is the conservative group Texas Eagle Forum. Their president said patients should be given an actual remedy for their condition and that lessening a potential penalty for pot possession is going in the wrong direction.

The bill was left pending in the committee.

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