Texas’ agriculture commissioner has come out in favor of medical marijuana, writing in a recent editorial that he will urge state lawmakers and Gov. Greg Abbott to make it a "top priority" in the upcoming legislative session.
"In a free society, government should only make something illegal for a powerful reason or set of facts," Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, a Republican, wrote. "The freedom of the people to make their own choices and decisions is a fundamental principal of a true democracy." Miller is currently serving his second term atop the state's agriculture commission.
Miller said past policies to reign in marijuana have failed and drew comparisons to alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and early 1930s that fueled crime and corruption. He said it was time for a new chapter, "especially when it comes to [marijuana's] potential medicinal benefits."
"It is time for all of us, including the Governor, members of the Texas Legislature and others to come together and set aside our political differences to have an honest conversation about cannabis: where we have been, where we are going and what role government should properly play," he said.
In an interview with Fox News, Miller elaborated on this point, saying the policy has remained inconsistent.
"We’re picking winners and losers," he said. "If you’ve got PTSD, you can get treatment. But if you have MS, you can’t get treatment. If you’ve got cancer, now we’ll let you get treatment. But if you’ve got Parkinson’s, you can’t get treatment."
He added: "It really is about freedom. Less government regulation and oversight and everything Republicans are supposed to hold dear. So, it’s time we let doctors make that decision [with] their patient. It’s really not the place for a bureaucrat or elected official to be making those types of medical decisions."
Miller was careful to draw a distinction between recreational use and medicinal use – the benefits of which, he believes, are backed up by science.
"I think it was just a matter of getting the science. I think many conservatives have seen friends or family that have been helped by hemp or CBD or cannabis from other states. And so, it’s earned its wings, as the saying goes."