DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A record number of marijuana-related bills introduced in the Texas Legislature have reform advocates optimistic.
“2019 already has set a record with 32 bills introduced, with several more coming down the pipe,” said Heather Fazio, executive director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana PolicyREAD MORE: Cook Children's Explains Its Canceling Of Elective Surgeries Due To Spike In COVID-19 Cases
Proposals, so far, seek to expand access to medical marijuana, clarify the legality of the unregulated CBD market and reduce penalties for getting caught with small amounts of the drug.
“It’s promising to see that many legislators introducing bills,” said Chris Grisolia, known to advocates as “Gramps.”
In 2016, Grisolia turned his woodworking shed into a studio and began making videos advocating for expanded access to medical marijuana.
“Welcome back to Gramps’ Place,” he says as he greets viewers in a Texas drawl.
The project was inspired by the death of his son, William, after the 23-year-old collapsed during a seizure.
“Nobody knows how long he was there, you know, by the time they found him, but it was too late,” said Grisolia.
He threw himself into research, reviewing studies that convinced him cannabis could have helped prevent his son’s death.
“Needless to say, I got pretty damn mad,” he said.READ MORE: 'They've Missed So Much Already': North Texas Parents Plan Homecoming Dance After School District Cancels Due To COVID-19
He’s now lobbying lawmakers, with three trips to Austin so far this year.
Seven bills seek to expand the Compassionate Use Act, which legalized medical marijuana in Texas for epilepsy patients, who gained access just last year.
“There are very few patients that are actually benefiting from this program,” said Fazio.
Republican State Rep. Stephanie Klick, the author of the original bill, said she’s working on new legislation to give access to patients with multiple sclerosis or spasticity, as well as those receiving palliative care for terminal or long-term degenerative conditions.
Other bills would go further, including patients with a long list of conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV and PTSD.
Five bills filed so far aim to bring clarity and regulation to the market for CBD oils, which now reside in a gray area of the law.
Another nine bills hope to reduce penalties for marijuana possession, doing away with jail time for those caught with small amounts of the drug.
The current legislative session is set to wrap in May. Any bills not passed by then likely won’t get another chance until the next regular session in the year 2021.MORE NEWS: Gov. Abbott Signs $2B Texas Border Security Bill Into Law In Fort Worth
Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy are tracking the current list of marijuana-related bills.