Veterans advocating for medical marijuana deliver petition to Abbott
A letter -- written by veteran David Bass and signed by more than 1400 veterans from all over the state of Texas.
"The Honorable Governor Greg Abbott...I'm writing today to request an in-person meeting with you and a group of Texas veterans who advocate for a more inclusive medical marijuana program," Bass read at Wednesday's press conference.
Before hand-delivering the letter to Abbott's office, the group talked with the press about what they're fighting for.
They're advocating for House Bill 2107 and Senate Bill 269 which would make the Compassionate Use Program more inclusive. Right now only those with intractable epilepsy can take advantage of it. Veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress cannot.
Amanda Berard is a prime example. The former army medic says Cannabis is much safer than the prescription meds she's on for PTSD.
"Cannabis lets me eat. I'm not jumping, I'm not afraid of sounds outside my door...I'm very paranoid on prescription medication. I shake," Berard said.
But as a single mom with 2 kids and a job she can't risk breaking the law.
"I can't. So I'm only on prescription medication now. I need Senate Bill 269 because that offers me protection with employment, that offers me protection with my military benefits, that offers me protection as a parent. And it's vital that this bill passes," Berard said.
After the press conference, the group walked from the Vietnam Veterans Monument to the Governor's office where Bass delivered the signatures.
Last session, Governor Abbott signed off on the Compassionate Use Act but eluded he wouldn't go much further.
"I remain convinced Texas should not legalize marijuana nor should Texas open the door for conventional marijuana to be used for medical or medicinal purposes," Abbott said in 2015.
"But our idea is that if anyone can persuade the Governor to expand the Compassionate Use Program, it would be our veterans," Bass said.
Bass says he spent more than 2 decades in the army. When he retired after serving in Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom he was rated 60% disabled for chronic pain and PTSD.
He became addicted to the pills they were giving him and used Cannabis as an "exit drug."
"Now I take a small dose of Cannabis every evening at the end of my day and it takes the place for me of 1 to 3 pain meds, a muscle relaxer pill, an anti-inflammatory pill and a psychotropic pill," Bass said.
Bass says the problem in Texas is -- he's considered a criminal because he buys and uses Cannabis. But he's an honest citizen and a taxpayer.
"What I need is a state licensed, state-regulated dispensary where I can purchase my Cannabis that has been grown by state-licensed growers. So we're not asking for a 'free-for-all.' We're veterans. We're asking for a strictly-regulated program," Bass said.