Medical marijuana program sees no change during 2023 legislative session

Louisiana Medical Marijuana
Posted at 6:18 PM, Jun 19, 2023

WACO, Texas — Medical marijuana advocates have been pushing for change for years. Chris Grisolia joined the cause in June of 2016 when he lost his son, William.

"I think about quitting. I think about giving up. Then the next day I wake up and the first thing I think about is him," Grisolia told 25 News.

"He was the kindest, most gentle, most caring, most respectful person you would ever meet."

William started having seizures at just nine years old. They continued throughout his teenage years and he started medication after he turned 18.

"It had the opposite effect of what you'd expect to happen," Grisolia said.

"You'd think it would stop the seizures, make them not happen — but it makes them like scheduled."

The January before his death, William started asking about marijuana after reading it helped others with seizures. At the time, the Texas Compassionate Use Program had already passed but was in the early planning stages and not available yet.

"He was kind of stuck and of course the only avenue he had at the time was to do something illegal," Grisolia said.

"He told me as much as I think it could help, I don't want to break the law. I mean, what could a father say?"

William passed away at 23 years old just a few months later after another seizure. Following his death, Grisolia started looking into if medical marijuana would've helped.

"I just was hooked and continued to research. I dove in headfirst."

After reading many stories about people who've benefited from it, he started pushing for more awareness in Texas.

"The TCUP program as far as patients keeps expanding, the growth is getting exponential," Grisolia said.

"It would be exponential had they done what we tried to get done this session."

A house bill was introduced this year which would have added chronic pain to the Compassionate Use Program — the bill died in the Senate.

"It would have been terrific," CEO of Doc MJ Aaron Bloom said.

"It would have made it more accessible to more Texans, more would have found relief and been able to get off opioids, which would've been tremendous help to those who are suffering."

Medical professionals who prescribe and work with marijuana at DocMJ say the impact they see in their patients is drastic.

"It's remarkable when people come to us for renewals," Bloom said.

"It's remarkable to hear how their lives have changed. People who get off the opioids that have so many side effects and are able to transfer to this medication without side effect, stories are remarkable."

A 2022 study out of the University of Texas shows more than 70 percent of Texans support medical marijuana, but there's still been some push back from lawmakers.

"We didn't get anything this session in addition to where we were in 2021, but there were bills that wanted to take this away that didn't go anywhere either," Grisolia said.

Grisolia plans to continue raising awareness and gear up for more legislative pushes in 2025.