HOUSTON - Thousands of Texas veterans suffering often life-threatening post-traumatic stress disorder can now legally access medical cannabis to ease the symptoms. The same goes for cancer patients battling all forms and stages of the disease.
For the first time, they too, can now legally obtain cannabis to lessen suffering and side effects, particularly from chemotherapy.
"We know that people can benefit from this medicine. We see it happening all across the country and that’s why there is such a huge movement for reform," said Heather Fazio, leader of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy.
Fazio is referring to the legislature's expansion of the "Texas Compassionate Use Program".
"We have a long way to go for an adequate medical marijuana program. But for now, what we have in Texas is something that's going to help millions of people potentially, whether they are suffering from cancer, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, autism, so many conditions we know that cannabis can benefit," said Fazio.
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Life-long Republican Ann Lee has been battling to legalize and regulate marijuana for decades.
"Why can't people have the right to use marijuana if it helps them? Marijuana prohibition is the worst policy we've had in this country since slavery," said the 92-year-old Lee.
She is comforted that the hundreds of thousands of Texans fighting cancer can now access potential relief without having to break the law.
"I guess I will take a little progress rather than none," said Lee.
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And progress for Ann Lee's cause appears to be gaining momentum with a full 60% of Texans polled this June favoring the eventual legalization of marijuana in the Lone Star State for both medical and recreational use.
"The sky certainly hasn't fallen in the 18 states that have rejected prohibition and instead adopted a system of regulation," said Fazio.
While a doctor's prescription is still required, the new law doubles the legal potency of cannabis for compassionate use to a level that is still significantly lower than that allowed in several other states.