By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Into the breach: Once again, the Texas Legislature will consider baby steps that would make it somewhat easier for sick people to use marijuana to treat their ailments. We say "somewhat easier" because this session's HB 1534 would not legalize medical marijuana. It would simply allow anyone busted for possession who had a legitimate medical need for weed to raise that fact as an issue in their defense. (It would also shield doctors who advise patients to try grass.)
But—wink, wink—it's a Trojan horse, right? A wedge used by stoners to get marijuana decriminalized. Even we thought so. But then we talked with Garland resident Tim Timmons, who was heading down to Austin to lobby for the bill. After speaking to him, we're ready to make a deal with the devil: Buzz loves us some grass, but we would gladly accept that it will be forever illegal for us if guys like Timmons could legally get the weed they need.
OK, so he's a persuasive lobbyist. Or maybe we're lying. Probably both.
Timmons has had chronic multiple sclerosis for 20 years. He takes 18-23 prescribed medicines a day—barbiturates, amphetamines, antispasmodics, muscle relaxants—to deal with the painful effects of the illness. They're slowly trashing his liver, and they don't always do the trick.
"I still have spasms that can knock me out of bed," Timmons says. If he takes enough muscle relaxants to halt the spasms, he can end up in a psychedelic nightmare. (He has called the Garland police to his home because of paranoid hallucinations.) Three tokes on a pipe, however, and he sleeps through the night.
And this guy is not a stoner. He tried marijuana a couple of times in high school but didn't take up smoking medicinally until he got some at his 30th high school reunion.
Yep, he's a criminal—and former risk management consultant and part-time university teacher who's now disabled.
So Timmons will go to Austin and aim his words at Governor Rick Perry, who declared in his inaugural address last month that Texas has "a responsibility to the most vulnerable among us, the young and the aged, those who are sick and those who live with disabilities, and that is to protect them, nurture them and empower them." Back the words with action and pass the bill, Timmons says. Otherwise, Perry's speech was "just noble words camouflaging heartless cowardice. "
Like we said, he's a good lobbyist.