Medicinal pot in the Texas Lege

April 14, 2005

Jordan Smith, Austin Chronicle

Patients and advocates filled the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee room on April 5 to testify in favor of HB 658, which would offer medical marijuana patients an affirmative defense against prosecution for pot possession. The bill, filed by Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, and co-sponsored by Reps. Terry Keel, R-Austin, and Suzanna Gratia Hupp, R-Lampasas, would offer the defense for patients using marijuana on a doctor's recommendation for the treatment of a bona fide medical condition. It would also prohibit law enforcement from investigating doctors on the grounds that they'd discussed marijuana with their patients. 

Twenty-six states have already recognized the benefits of medical marijuana – including 10 which have legalized medi-pot and two, Florida and Idaho, which have passed laws creating a 'medical necessity' defense to prosecution, akin to Naishtat's current proposal. 

'This is an issue of compassion, and [of] the right to effective health care treatments,' Texans for Medical Marijuana Executive Director Noelle Davis told the committee. The bill is still pending in committee.

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