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Texas Tribune Smokes Out Local Hoping the State'll Be Cool With Medical Marijuana

So, fake pot's on the fast track to becoming illegal in the city of Dallas -- probably within the next couple of weeks, after the city council votes to make it a punishable-with-a-$2,000-fine misdemeanor on Wednesday. But what about making the real thing legal? That's what Stephen Betzen's pushing for, per today's tale in the Texas Tribune about efforts to make medical marijuana a-lot-cooler-if-you-did with the state legislature. Betzen's the head of Cedar Springs-based Texas Coalition for Compassionate Care, which has drafted the Texas State Medical Use of Marihuana Act -- which, unlike other statewide legalize-it efforts, is "pushing only for a limited law allowing medical use as a defense against criminal charges," writes Julian Aguilar.

Of course, efforts like the one being proposed by Betzen -- who, according to the story, has a very personal connection to this -- have failed in the past. Which doesn't mean he's given up hope:

Betzen believes the proposal he favors could pass next session because it's more conservative than previously rejected legislation. He's pushing an "affirmative defense" bill that would neither legalize nor decriminalize marijuana and would not sanction the kind of dope dispensaries that have cropped up all over California or official ID cards for approved users. In fact, Betzen says, his limited law wouldn't affect current penalties for possession at all. It would only allow a judge or jury to hear that a defendant used marijuana on a doctor's recommendation.

"If we are not going to get all the protection that we absolutely need, then we are going to take the protections that they are willing to give," he says. "It's a compromise to get protections on the table to patients as soon as possible."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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