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EDITORIAL: ADVOCATING FOR COMPASSIONATE USE (07/15/2022)

An op-ed by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller
July 15, 2022

As Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, I am responsible for licensing over 850 entities that currently grow, handle, sample, or process hemp in Texas. Hemp and marijuana are two different names for the flowering plant known as cannabis. The legal difference between the two is the concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. THC is what gives the feeling of “high” that people associate with cannabis. By law, marijuana has a THC concentration of 0.3% or more. Hemp has a THC concentration less than or equal to 0.3% by dry weight.

It is our general state cannabis policy that I will focus on today as I share my thoughts with my fellow Texans. In a free society, the 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 principle of a true democracy.

The history of cannabis prohibition mirrors the failure of alcohol prohibition in the 1920s. Complete with gangs, corruption, and widespread violence against the lives and freedoms of American citizens.

Looking back, I believe cannabis prohibition came from a place of fear, not medical science or social harm analysis. Unfortunately, the roots of this came from a history of racism, classism and a big central government with an authoritarian desire to control others. He is as anti-American in his origins as one can imagine.

Today, at the 21st century, it must stop. We must begin with a new chapter and a new attitude towards the use of cannabis, particularly with regard to its potential medicinal benefits.

To date, thirty-nine states, including politically conservative states such as Oklahoma, Utah and Florida, have legalized cannabis for compassionate use: also known as medical marijuana.

Beyond that, eighteen states, including conservative western states like Arizona, Montana, and Alaska, have legalized commercial cannabis sales to ALL adults.

While I’m not sure Texas is ready to go that far, I have seen firsthand the value of cannabis as medicine for so many Texans.

States that predate Texas provide real-world data and research on what they are doing well and what can be improved. But the roots of a good Texas cannabis policy have already been planted.

I worked diligently to bring hemp cultivation to Texas and supported the development of products such as hemp oil for medical use. These products are making a difference in the lives of many people where other medicines have failed.

My goal for the next year is to expand access to compassionate use of cannabis products in Texas so that every Texan with a medical need has access to these drugs.

When four out of five Texans support compassionate use, we must ensure that state law and policy reflect that desire. I will urge our state legislature and our governor to make this a top priority in the next legislative session.

It’s time for all of us, including the Governor, members of the Texas Legislature and others, to come together and put aside our political differences to have an honest conversation about cannabis: where we’ve been, where we are going and what role should the government play? play correctly.

We owe it to our fellow Texans, especially those who are suffering, to lead or simply step aside if we cannot formulate an effective cannabis policy for Texas.