Baker Institute expert available to discuss medical marijuana legislation

first_imgShareMEDIA ADVISORYDavid [email protected] [email protected] Institute expert available to discuss medical marijuana legislationHOUSTON – (April 28, 2015) – The Texas Legislature will hear three bills today authorizing the use of medical marijuana. Katharine Neill, a drug policy expert at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, is available to discuss the bills’ prospects and how they fit in with national drug policy developments.Credit: University.“We can expect to see a lot of people come out to show support for medical marijuana,” said Neill, the Baker Institute’s Alfred C. Glassell III Postdoctoral Fellow in Drug Policy. “As for the bills’ prospects, HB 837, which is sponsored by Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) and would provide a defense for patients arrested for marijuana possession, probably has the best chances because it doesn’t change the legality of marijuana.” Naishtat also introduced this bill last session but the bill did not make it out of committee.Another bill, HB 892, allows for the use of low-THC, high-CBD cannabis that can help with some medical ailments. THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive element in marijuana that gets users “high”; CBD, cannabidiol, is the nonpsychoactive element that increases the happy, euphoric effects of THC while decreasing paranoia, anxiety and nervousness. HB 892 is also known as a CBD-only bill and has been popular in southern states with Republican lawmakers, Neill said. It has some support among Republicans here as well — Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) is the author of the House bill and Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) is the author of the companion bill in the Senate.“This bill may have a chance of passing, as people do not get high from the form of cannabis that it legalizes,” Neill said. “However, it would only address the needs of a very small subset of patients, and the majority of people who could benefit from using cannabis as medicine would still not have access to the strains that could bring them relief.”Finally, HB 3785, authored by Marisa Márquez (D-El Paso), would address the needs of these other patients because it would legalize the whole marijuana plant and grant access to more strains, some of which would include more THC. “This bill has support from veterans’ groups and patients and other advocacy groups; however, it also probably has the least likelihood of passing because it would legalize whole-plant marijuana for patients,” Neill said.Neill said even if these bills can make it out of the House and Senate, Gov. Gregg Abbott would still have to sign them, and he has stated his opposition to both decriminalization and legalization. “This is despite polls that show a majority of Texans supporting access to legal medical marijuana,” Neill said.To interview Neill, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at [email protected] or 713-348-6775.-30-Follow the Baker Institute Drug Policy Program via Twitter @BakerDrugPolicy.Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.Related materials:Neill biography: Institute Drug Policy Program: in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top 10 university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog, AddThislast_img