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New effort underway to expand medical marijuana use in Texas

A new bill will be filed Tuesday in Austin to legalize medical marijuana. (Photo: Sinclair Broadcast Group)

SAN ANTONIO -- State Senator Jose Menendez plans to file a bill Tuesday morning that would expand the use of medical marijuana in Texas.

28 states have already approved the use of medical marijuana, including many conservative states.

In 2015, Texas state lawmakers legalized the use of medical marijuana in Texas (SB 339), but the scope was limited.

So limited, that only those suffering from intractable epilepsy, otherwise known as uncontrolled epilepsy, are allowed to get a prescription for cannabis oil.

“We (elected officials) aren't doctors,” said Menendez. “Doctors know what's best and we should let doctors and patients decide what medicines they should use.”

Menendez’s bill would allow patients with cancer or other illnesses to gain access to cannabis.

“I'm not talking about recreational marijuana,” he said. “All I want is for medical doctors to file a prescription for patients who have a medical need. This is not about headaches and stomach aches. This is about true medical needs.”

However, there is opposition to legalizing medical marijuana, including from Governor Greg Abbott.

After signing SB 339 into law, otherwise known as the Texas Compassionate Use Act, Abbott said Texas won’t legalize marijuana for medicinal or recreational use for as long as he’s in office.

Groups against the effort to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes point out that no FDA approved medication is administered by smoking, and there are also concerns about marijuana dependence and advertising.

But the bill could help patients like Sherise Nipper who once suffered from debilitating epileptic seizures.

She would have upwards of 40 seizures of day.

She moved from San Antonio to Colorado last year because of medical marijuana laws there and says the decision saved her life.

“I think it's going to heal Texas,” she said. “Just off of what it did for me... They gave me 45 days to live. I came up here and a year later I'm completely seizure free. So I think if they legalize cannabis in Texas it's going to help a lot of families.”

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