Texas Hill Country News

Ag Commissioner Supports Expanded Medical Cannabis in Texas

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Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller recently toured a state-licensed marijuana facility and met with a group of parents whose children utilize medical cannabis for various conditions. Afterward, the staunchly conservative Republican made comments in favor of Texas medical marijuana: “I would certainly expand medical marijuana. If it’ll help somebody, I’m for it,” Miller told KXAN.com. “Whatever it is. I mean, a toothache, I don’t care. If it’s a cure, if it [alleviates] pain, we should be able to use that.”

In 2017, Texas’s “Compassionate Use Act” went into effect, allowing select citizens of the Lone Star state to use low-THC (.5%) cannabis for medicinal purposes. Access only applies to those with a few very specific conditions like intractable epilepsy, Huntington’s disease, and terminal cancer. Some Texas lawmakers have called for further legalization of medical marijuana, allowing its use for more common conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or glaucoma. The Texas Ag Commissioner does not have a Legislature vote, but his agency does oversee the licensing of medical marijuana cultivators.

Ag Commissioner Supports Expanded Medical Cannabis in Texas

Photo: @LittleIvan via Twenty20

In addition to treating pain and assisting with recovery, making cannabis legal in Texas has the potential for massive tax benefits and other economic perks. A recent report from Vicente Sederberg LLP, based on the estimated adult-use marijuana market, notes Texas sales would be $2.7 billion annually. A projected 20,000-40,000 legal jobs would be directly created, in addition to indirect jobs for “electrical and water service providers, HVAC manufacturers and installers, processing equipment producers and retailers, and other professionals.”

Vicente Sederberg LLP also noted they “also expect [legalization] would bolster the hospitality industry…”

Further estimated benefits of legalization per the report include additional state monies via business licensing fees, and less money going out from criminal justice processing. Shawn Hauser, a partner at Vicente Sederberg, said in a press release: “Hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue and tens of thousands of new jobs would be especially helpful in overcoming the losses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Texas is leaving an enormous amount of money on the table by keeping cannabis illegal.”

What are your thoughts on furthering medical cannabis in Texas or legalizing it completely?