AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller penned an editorial Friday expressing his support for expanding the "compassionate use" of cannabis products in Texas.
Miller started out by saying that, in the past, Texas policy on cannabis has not been driven by facts but, rather, fear.
"As I look back, I believe that cannabis prohibition came from a place of fear, not from medical science or the analysis of social harm," Miller wrote. "Sadly, the roots of this came from 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."
He continued, calling for the state to enter "a new chapter and a new attitude about the use of cannabis" and its potential medical benefits.
Texas lawmakers approved back in 2015 a medical marijuana program intended for people with epilepsy. Since then, the list of people who can use it for medical purposes has expanded. Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill to do just that in June 2021.
A law expanding the use of medical marijuana in 2019 added those with terminal cancer, autism, multiple sclerosis and others to the list of legal users. Then, in 2021, an additional law further expanded the use to all forms of cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder.
That law, which went into effect last September, also doubled the amount of THC allowed in marijuana products from 0.5% to 1%.
Miller wrote that his goal next year is to expand access to medical marijuana in Texas "so that every Texan with a medical need has access to these medicines."
"I will urge our state legislature and our Governor to make that a top priority in the upcoming legislative session," he wrote. "It is time for all of us, including the Governor, members of the Texas Legislature and others to come together and set aside our political differences to have an honest conversation about cannabis: where we have been, where we are going and what role government should properly play."
Miller highlighted other states, including conservative ones, that have legalized medical marijuana and others that have legalized marijuana sales to all adults.
Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas currently allow the use of medical marijuana, but not recreational use. New Mexico is currently the only state bordering Texas that has legalized the sale of recreational marijuana. That New Mexico law went into effect on April 1.
"We owe it to our fellow Texans, especially those who are suffering, to lead or just get out of the way if we cannot formulate effective cannabis policy for Texas," Miller wrote.
Read the full editorial on the Texas Department of Agriculture's website.
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