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Adrian Beltran, Ashley Elrod, Joel Perez, Jordan Scritchfield, Tamara Diaz
Jinnell Killingsworth
GOVT-2306-58125
May 3, 2016
Marijuana: The Diamond in The Rough
I. Background of the Bill
SB 339 is the bill posed for low use of THC cannabis, passed on 2015 and took effect in
June of that year. But before going into details about the bill SB-339, we first want to share some
history behind the use of marijuana, and hopefully have a better understanding for the whole
process. The use of marijuana became popular after 1910 in the border towns of Texas and New
Mexico. But legislation of the drug was slow in Texas. “The Texas Legislature included
marijuana when it passed a general narcotics statue in 1919, prohibiting transfer of listed
narcotics except for medical purposes. By 1931, Texas legislation finally got approved to
prohibiting possession of marijuana” (Whitebread). Later on laws were made and its use was
now illegal. A person found with marijuana could be sentenced from 6 month to many years
depending on the act and the amount that implied. Like any other offense to the law, the person
would have to either do time in prison or pay a fine and it would appear on the person’s record.
Now on 2015 Senator Kevin Eltife, a Republican from district 1, posed the bill to legalize
the use of medicinal marijuana, and it passed immediately on May, 2015. This bill counted with
the support of 6 primary sponsors and 16 cosponsors:

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Kevin Eltife, who served for three terms on the Tyler City Council and then
followed to serve another three terms as the mayor of Tyler, served in several committees
once he became senator. In 2010 he was appointed by Lt. Governor Dewhurst to serve as
Chair of the Senate Administration Committee, Senate Business and Commerce,
Economic Development, Finance, and Natural Resources Committees, appointed to the
Senates Board, and to the Senate Administration, Government Organization, Health and
Human Services, and International Relations and Trade Committee. He is a liberal,
Republican Senator, representing District 1. Due to his hard work and dedication to the
community, he was appointed to serve in the Texas Higher Education Coordination
board, and received several recognitions for his community labor, volunteer work and
integrity (Texas Legislature).
Stephanie Klick was elected as Representative for district 91 on 2012. She serves
Haltom City, Watauga, North Richland Hills, Richland Hills, and a portion of Fort Worth.
After 30 years if experience in the medical field in nursing and serving the public, she
was appointed to serve the Committees of Human Services and Pensions, as well as
elected to serve as Chair for the Tarrant County Delegation. Rep. Klick was also primary
sponsor for the bill from the Republican Party (Texas Legislature).
John Zerwas is one of the primary sponsor of the bill from the Republican Party,
and served as the Representative from District 28, currently serving his fifth term in The
House of Representatives in Texas. He serves the northwestern region of Fort Bend
County. He worked as a physician for over 30 years which gave him the opportunity to
receive several recognitions for his community engagement including “One of the ten
best Texas Legislators” by Texas Monthly (Texas Legislature).
William ‘Bill’ Zedler is a Republican Representative from District 96. He was
elected in 2002 to serve Arlington, Burleson, Crowley, Fort Worth, Mansfield,

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Kennedale, and southern Tarrant County. This veteran has dedicated his career to the
health industry as well providing consultative services with providers from the industry
like Jelco Labs, Baxter Healthcare, Pyxis Corp., and Bridge Medical. He currently serves
the Public and Special Purpose Districts. Also has served in several House committees
like: Business and Industry, Criminal Jurisprudence, Government Efficiency and Reform,
Public Education, Rules and Resolutions, and the House administration (Texas
Legislature).
Garnet F. Coleman has served as a Democratic Representative for District 147
since 1991. This long time leader has earned his position and well driven reputation for
all the community and service labor he has done thought the years. He has served as the
senior ranking member of the Public Health Committee and Chairman of the County
Affairs Committee, and is a member of the Select Committee on Federal Economic
Stabilization Funding. In his history of bringing to the community, he simplified access to
children’s Medicaid for over 600,000 Texan children, and seven in several Committee
boards like the National Mental Health Association (Texas Legislature).
J.D. Sheffield, the Republican Representative, was elected in 2012 for his first
term, and then elected again in 2014 to serve another term in the House of Representative
as the Representative of District 59, which include Comanche, San Saba, Mills, Coryell,
Erath, Hamilton, and Somervell Counties. He is a physician, who has made it to be the
Director at Coryell Medical Clinic, and a physician at Coryell Memorial Hospital. He
served in the Public Health Committee during his first term in office, and served in the
Corrections and Rules and Resolutions Committees, and was named to the Select
Committee on Child Protection (Texas Legislature).

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Needless to say that the primary leaders who support this bill are well educated people who are
knowledgeable in the health industry, the communities, and the well-being of the people.

II. Components of the Bill
“Although marijuana’s potential usefulness appears to be limited entirely to relieving
discomfort, preliminary evidence indicates that it can provide relief to at least some patients”
(Mack and Allison). Low-THC cannabis can be considered as a huge step forward for helping
millions of people tolerate different medical conditions. “The discussion is limited to research on
conditions that marijuana has been most often claimed to help, such as pain, AIDS, cancer, and
muscular spasticity” (Mack and Allison). There have been multiple clinical trials conducted to
see the different outcomes of medical marijuana, but there have been times when scientists have
not been able to perform these clinical trials because of legal reasons. If more states would
legalize the use of medical marijuana, medical scientists would run into less conflict and be able
to broaden their research. “…since many different disorders share symptoms such as pain,
nausea, and muscle spasms, it is possible that a wide variety of patients may be helped by
medicines derived from marijuana” (Mack and Allison).
In Texas, SB 339 states, “Relating to the medical use of low-THC cannabis and the
regulation of regulated organizations and individuals; requiring a dispensing organization to
obtain a license to dispense low-THC cannabis and any employee of a dispensing organization to
obtain a registration; authorizing fees” (Texas SB 339). This is a Bipartisan Bill that was signed
in 2015. The legalization of medical low-THC cannabis is in full effect in the state of Texas. This
bill covers everything from the Dispensing Organizations to the Patient Treatment Plan for

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epilepsy patients. Dispensing organizations means “a non-profit organization licensed by the
department to cultivate, process, and dispense low-THC cannabis to a patient for whom lowTHC cannabis is prescribed under Chapter 169, occupations code” (Texas SB 339). Dispensaries
require a criminal history background check for all employees hired to sell medical cannabis.
The essence of this bill allows patients with epilepsy to legally purchase low-THC cannabis from
a licensed dispenser. However, they may only purchase it after the patient has tried two other
forms of medical treatments. If the patient believes that they are not feeling any different, or the
pain persists, then they may use the legalized oil.
There are many interest groups that are pro cannabis and also many that are not. One pro
cannabis interest group that has been beneficial in Texas would be DFW NORML. This interest
group is all about bringing awareness to the public. It also promotes action within the
community, and even participates in the political fight to legalize marijuana. It shows the public
that marijuana is not just a street drug, but that it is a beneficial type of medicine that can help
millions. This group is involved in the community, and actually pushed for SB 339 to be passed
in the House and Senate. An interest group that is against the legalization of marijuana would be
CALM (Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana), they argue that marijuana is not good medically
or recreationally. Some of the points that this group tries to get across is that smoking marijuana
“can” cause birth defects, DNA problems, and permanent brain damage. Lastly they argue that
marijuana causes mental illness, violence, and crime. This is such a good example as to why
people should look more into the positive effects of marijuana. This interest group fails to speak
of the benefits, and has little research to back their claims. Our interest groups are peaceful and
willing to negotiate with others who feel different about this issue. Yet it feels like CALM wants
the stigma against marijuana to stay. There are true results of people getting better from medical

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marijuana, not getting worse. Also, this bill has absolutely zero impact on the state budget. “No
significant fiscal implication to the state is anticipated” (Texas SB 399).
This bill has benefits to it that some see, and others do not. It is something that
will help epilepsy patients, and it has been proven. This bill ignores the moral issue of marijuana,
and presents scientific fact that supports the claim. It allows for the state of Texas to see effects
of having legal cannabis, even if it is only low-THC. It is one step in a long path toward full
legalization, but these components allow for the opposition to see the good of marijuana.
III. State Comparison
We are comparing Texas’s bill, SB 339, to Colorado’s bill HB 1317; Colorado being the
first state to pass a bill legalizing recreational marijuana use. While Texas has not proposed a bill
for the recreational use of marijuana, both states have proposed and passed bills for the medical
use of low-THC. Texas’s Senator Kevin Eltife is the author of bill SB 339. The Texas bill is also
sponsored by House Rep. Stephanie Klick, who stressed to House members that the product she
was trying to legalize should not be confused with recreational marijuana (Batheja). Colorado’s
author of bill HB 1317 is Michael Dohr and sponsored by Congressman Dan Pabon.
Bill SB 339 of Texas passed the Senate on May 7, 2015 and in the House on May 19,
2015. Years before, in 2013, Colorado passed similar bill HB 1317 on May 28th. In Texas it
seems that the public is divided. The debate centers around whether or not medical marijuana
will be beneficial to patients who require the low-THC cannabinoid found in the drug. There are
some in Texas who have concerns about the requirements put on patients. They would have to try
two epilepsy medications at maximum dosage before trying the cannabinoid oils from marijuana
(Hershaw). According to Senator Mark Scheffel it was a game changer for the state of Colorado,

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and that it is important to do their best to implement the right regulatory environment and fund it
(Ingold).
There are many organizations and interest groups for and against the use of medical
cannabis. Both of these interest groups have some presence in each state. The National Cannabis
Industry Association (NCIA) is a national advocacy group lobbing for the use and sale of
marijuana in hopes the market for marijuana will grow throughout the U.S. They also point out
that, “the first $40 million raised from the 15 percent excise tax would go to school
construction”(Ferner). This means that the medicinal and recreational marijuana would be used
for more than just its initial purposes. Colorado aims to use it as a way to raise money, and aid in
other state projects that need funding. While there are many groups for the drug, there are just as
many against it. Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM) do not see the good that comes
from the drug. Just to elaborate a bit, CALM is an all-volunteer Political Action Committee
dedicated to defeating any effort to legalizing marijuana, as stated on the homepage of their
website calmusa.org (Welcome).
As we have stated before the bill from Texas, SB339, and the bill from Colorado, HB
1317, they do have some similarities; they also have some differences. Both the Texas bill and
the Colorado bill require criminal history screenings for personnel wanting to be hired by the
dispensary, including owners, managers, and employees. A full set of fingerprints are required as
stated in bills SB 339 and HB 1317. The organization is required to notify persons of their
criminal background checks with the results. These rules are set in place to protect the state, and
the patients from any negligence that might occur.
Both bills also require proof that the person requesting the drug is of legal stature.
Meaning that a medical prescription meets all requirements, in Texas and Colorado, and the

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person is over the age of twenty-one in Colorado for recreational use. Bills SB 339 and HB 1317
also state that any dispensary that is licensed to sell and grow medical marijuana have to decline
service to persons whom do not meet the requirements to obtain the drug.
A few differences with the bills are the obvious. Texas has not yet passed a bill legalizing
the use of recreational use of THC, while Colorado was the first state in the USA to legalize the
consumption of low and high dosage THC. In Colorado, an ounce of marijuana is available for
instate persons over the age of 21 to purchase legally. Also in Colorado, a quarter of an ounce for
out of state persons over the age of 21 is allowed. It is still illegal in Texas to purchase, sell, or
grow marijuana if you are not a license medical dispensary.
This comparison is one that is needed, and it must be seen by everyone in Texas. It
highlights what is accepted and what is not. It allows for us as citizens to know what we can do
in each state, and what we can work toward. This comparison is something that our group will
use to further advocate the full legalization of marijuana.
IV: Journey of the Bill Through The Legislative Process
The journey of bill SB 339 was one that we feel is important, because it was the process
that the Texas legislature used to recognize marijuana as a form of medication rather than a drug.
It was not a surprise that the bill made it through a committee. However, it was a surprise that the
bill passed through both and made it out of committee to be finally voted on by the Legislature.
It was signed by the governor June 1 st, 2015. This legislation was a landmark for marijuana
legalization and key for the advancement of medicinal marijuana (McAlister).
The bill SB 339 was filed on January 23th, 2015 by Texas Senator Kevin Eltife. It was
first introduced to the Texas Senate. At first the bill was referred to the Senate Committee of

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State affairs, but was quickly referred to the Senate Committee of Health and Human Services
where it was then voted on. The bill made it out of the senate committee with a total of 8 “Yeas”
and 1 “Nay” and no members of the senate were absent. The bill was then referred to the House
Committee on Public Health where it was then voted on again. The bill made it out of the House
Committee with a total of 7 “Yeas” to 1 “Nay” and 3 House members absent. After passing both
committees and being voted on, the final total of votes it took to pass the bill were a total of 108
“Yeas” to 38 “Nay’s” in the House of Representatives, it took the Senate 26 “Yeas” and 5
“Nay’s” for the bill to pass. The bill was finally signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on June
1st, 2015 and went to effect immediately.
The bill SB 339 was one that was passed far quicker than others. This was surprising
since it was such a controversial bill (McAlister). What this bill does is it sets the president for
future or potential marijuana legislative attempts. This has shown that the representatives in
Austin are able to work together, and pass a bill that is viewed very differently throughout all
parts of the state. Finally, it shows the state of Texas, that medicinal marijuana is effective and
useful.
V: Analysis/Conclusion:
Our group fully supports this bill passage. We feel as though it is merely a baby step
toward full legalization. Everything has a start however, and we understand that Texas as a state
is slowly coming to grips with the benefits of marijuana. We will continue to advocate and
educate others on this bill, we also keep pushing for full legalization.
This bill, SB 339, impacts Texan’s even if they do not have epilepsy. It sets a precedent
that marijuana can, and will be a part of our society. This bill allows for people in Texas to view

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a few of the benefits medicinal marijuana contains. It will also open the door toward other
marijuana discussions that will impact Texas deeply. We understand that their needs to be policy
changes in order to advance our goals. We know that firstly, a government agency should be
created for the sole purpose of researching marijuana. This will ensure that the Texas Legislators
stay informed on this issue. It will also allow for the public to stay up to date with the latest data
on marijuana. Our group and many others understand that since marijuana contains medicinal
properties, the Texas Medical Board should send out notices to all epilepsy patients in this state.
This will allow for the epileptic community to be open to the idea of cannabis oil. This notice
will also validate cannabis oil, for a state agency will support its claims with research. Lastly, a
state committee should be created for the research of recreational marijuana. It will allow for the
idea to be introduced into our legislation and open the door toward for full legalization of
marijuana.
This issue is one that will continue be debated in this state. It is important to remember
that all things must pass through the flame of judgement in order to be accepted. This bill is a
win however, for it will bridge the gap between the Texas public and other marijuana legislation.
The fight is long from over and new research will continue to be produced on the benefits of
marijuana. Thankfully, the fight for marijuana legalization has not died and will continue to gain
ground.

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Works Cited
Batheja, Aman. "Cannabis Oil Approved for Epilepsy Patients." The Texas Tribune. N.p.,
May-June 2015. Web. 03 May 2016.
Ferner, Matt. "Marijuana Legalization Bills: Colorado Lawmakers Pass Historic Legal
Weed Regulation, Tax Bills." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 03 May
2016.
Hershaw, Eva. "Medical Marijuana Advocates Say Proposal Doesn't Go Far Enough."
The Texas Tribune. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2016
Ingold, John. "Colorado Legislature Gives Final Approval to Historic Marijuana Bill." The Denver Post. The Denver Post, n.d. Web. 04 May 2016.
Mack, Alison, and Janet Joy. Marijuana as Medicine?: The Science beyond the
Controversy. Washington, D.C.: National Academy, 2001. ProQuest. National Academics Press,
Nov. 2000. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
McAlister, Shawn, “Legislative Interview.” Telephone Interview. 2 April. 2016
"Welcome." CALM USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2016
"Texas House of Representatives." : House Members. State Of Texas, Apr.-May 2016.
Web. 04 May 2016.
"Texas Legislature Online - 84(R) History for SB 339." Texas Legislature Online - 84(R)
History for SB 339. State of Texas, n.d. Web. 04 May 2016.

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Whitebread, Charles. "The History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United
States." History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States. Drug Library, n.d. Web.
04 May 2016