Republicans need to legalize medical marijuana in Texas

Photo by flickr: El Tekolote

If one were to take a cursory look at Texas and national politics, one might believe that the vast majority of state and national Republicans are against medical marijuana.

While prominent leaders like Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may get much of the media attention, grassroots Republicans of all ages are pushing for real medical freedom and smaller government.

While campaigning in Colorado, then-nominee Donald Trump said he believed in medical marijuana and that legalization for other uses should be left to the states.

In 2016, at the Republican Party of Texas convention, delegates who are generally seen as some of the most conservative and active within the GOP decided that medical marijuana legalization should be expanded through the Compassionate Use Act that was originally passed by a Republican Legislature in 2015.

Currently, 29 states allow medical marijuana, with more looking to pass or expand programs. Oklahoma and Missouri, both of which are conservative states, will soon take up the issue and seem likely pass it. In Missouri, three initiatives are working their way to the ballot, and an even broader medical marijuana program is likely to be passed by the Republican-lead Legislature and signed into law by the recently elected Republican governor.

While it is no surprise that liberty Republicans such as U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky are pushing to remove marijuana from the list of banned substances, it may surprise some that Sens. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, are pushing for more marijuana research in an attempt to find alternatives to opioids. Much marijuana research within the United States has been banned because the FDA considers it a schedule 1 drug — a classification that bans a substance and marks it is as having no medical use. Consider that the government also owns patent 6,630,507 for medicinal use, that is clearly false scheduling.

When Hatch proposed the Marijuana Effective Drug Studies (MEDS) Act he introduced it with this speech: “Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration and quality of medical marijuana. All the while, the federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.”

According to a study in the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health Journal, opioid related deaths are 25 percent lower in states with medical marijuana.

Much of the changing perception on medical marijuana has come from testimonies of families with young children sharing their stories. Children like Alexis Bortell, a 12-year-old medical marijuana refugee from Texas now living in Colorado. Her family gave up their home so their daughter could have the treatment she needed to stop the “seizure monster,” as she called it. Now going on nearly two years seizure free, Alexis can once again ride bikes and have sleepovers with friends. She got her childhood back.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine has found that marijuana can help ease constant pain in adults and help with chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea.

The loudest group that is bringing conservatives to the table for medical marijuana are veterans fighting for options for PTSD. Approximately 22 veterans a day commit suicide in America and groups that support the military are looking at every option to change those statistics.

The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars adopted resolutions in 2017 supporting medical marijuana and urging Congress to act.

Support for medical marijuana ranges across the political spectrum. It is long past time for Texas and the federal government to change the laws that make it illegal. It is time to answer the call of the people and make a real difference. It is time to legalize medical marijuana in Texas, and for the federal government to get out of the way.

Jason Vaughn

SREC liaison, Texas Young Republicans