Legalizing Medical Marijuana In Texas

December 09, 2004

, KXAN 36 - Austin

An Austin lawmaker wants to let Texans use marijuana for medical purposes. He plans to file legislation soon that would de-criminalize marijuana use for the seriously ill.

State Representative Elliott Naishtat says there are many details still to work out. Like whether to limit use for certain illnesses and whether to allow medical users to grow it themselves.

He says no one should be made a criminal for trying to ease their suffering.

"Fabian," as he asked us to identify him, says medicinal marijuana helped him beat a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Free from the disease now and no longer smoking, he still asked his identity be hidden.

"I just did enough to make myself feel more calm and to allow me to be able to eat and not have the nausea," Fabian said.

By not allowing Texans to use medicinal marijuana, Fabian says the state denies relief to those suffering a serious illness.

"They basically told me I was like Lazarus, I shouldn't be here, but I was and I knew the marijuana helped me," Fabian said.

Now State Representative Elliott Naishtat says he wants to help more patients.

"This would not legalize the use of marijuana in this state by any stretch," Naishtat said.

But he's working on legislation to OK possession and use of small amounts of marijuana by patients with valid medical needs. It would also require consultation with a physician.

"That's all we're trying to do is authorize the use for people who have legitimate, bona fide medical conditions, who are in constant pain," Naishtat said.

A recent Texas poll shows an overwhelming majority of Texans favor legislation allowing the use of medical marijuana.

"It's a way to get around the federal prohibition," Naishtat said.

Fabian says keep those already suffering from feeling like a criminal.

"When you're sick, you don't want to be stressed out about getting busted for having something that's helping you stay alive essentially," Fabian said.

Similar legislation failed during the 2001 legislative session. That time Austin State Representative Terry Keel sponsored the bill.

He says it failed then because he couldn't get anyone in the senate to carry the legislation.

The U.S. Supreme Court is deciding right now, whether state's even have the right to allow use of medicinal marijuana.

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