Expansion of Legal Medical Marijuana in Texas Gets Backing of State Official

Texas remains one of the biggest states that has not allowed legal recreational marijuana, and even its medical marijuana program is heavily restricted. However, that would change if state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has his way.

Miller, a Republican, recently wrote in an editorial on his website that he favors expanding legal medical marijuana in Texas, and said doing so should rank as a top priority for Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislature.

He later said in an interview that the state currently has an inconsistent policy. He said as things stand,  “We’re picking winners and losers. We’ve had medical marijuana for a while, but it’s very limited.” He’s noted that you can get treatment for PTSD and cancer, but can’t use it for MS or Parkinson’s disease.

Miller Does Not Endorse Recreational Marijuana

Miller made it clear in the interview that he is not endorsing recreational marijuana, which is legal in four of the Top 10 biggest states – California, New York, Illinois and Michigan. (It’s also legal in the next two largest states, New Jersey and Virginia). However, he wrote in the editorial that the limited nature of legal medical marijuana in Texas runs contrary to the idea of personal freedom.

“In a free society, government should only make something illegal for a powerful reason or set of facts. The freedom of the people to make their own choices and decisions is a fundamental principal of a true democracy,” Miller wrote. “The history of cannabis prohibition reflects the failed alcohol prohibition of the 1920s. Complete with gangs, corruption, and widespread violence against the lives and liberties of American citizens.”

He also wrote that the prohibition against cannabis came from “a place of fear,” in his opinion, with the roots of this fear tracing back to a “history of racism, classism, and a large central government with an authoritarian desire to control others. It is as anti-American in its origins as could be imaginable.”

A Call For Debate in Austin

Miller’s interesting perspective may surprise some who do not expect that stance from a Republican (he noted this in his interview). However, Republicans at the national level have taken the lead on legalizing marijuana with the States Reform Act, which would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and give the states more freedom in setting the rules as they see fit. It also would allow banks to offer full financial services to the cannabis industry.

Miller advocates for what is known as “compassionate care,” or the expansion of medical marijuana programs to allow treatment for more illnesses and medical conditions. Miller said he’s seen firsthand the value of legal medical marijuana in Texas for improving the lives of patients.

“It is my goal next year to expand access to the compassionate use of cannabis products in Texas so that every Texan with a medical need has access to these medicines,” Miller wrote. Whether Abbott and the rest of the conservative leadership in Texas agrees remains to be seen, but Miller’s public stance on legal medical marijuana in Texas is yet another turning point in the effort to make cannabis legal nationwide.

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