Being “blunt” about the future of medicine in Texas

Travis Hairgrove, Editor

As of today, 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of marijuana for various specified medical purposes, which include providing pain relief or symptom alleviation for conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy and glaucoma. Texas just barely makes it onto this list, as only the use of cannabis oil for the treatment of epilepsy is legal.

Last week, two A&M-Commerce students, Christopher Lindsey and Matthew Markovitch approached the Student Government Association with hopes of persuading the organization to “pass a resolution recommending the legalization of marijuana for [further] medical uses in the State of Texas.”

“Now, some of you may be wondering, ‘Can the SGA do anything about this?’ and the answer is yes,” Lindsey said, shortly after introducing his and Markovitch’s proposition. “This does fall within the SGA’s jurisdiction, and the constitution of the SGA states the Student Government Association is to ‘serve as the voice of the student body’ and ‘to serve as a channel of communication with faculty, administration of TAMUC with respect to the wishes of the students of TAMUC.’ Therefore, I believe this is a proper venue for this process to start.’

After Lindsey introduced the proposition, Markovitch followed with the main point of his argument for the legalization of medical marijuana itself.

“Science is proving that marijuana is more effective at treating medical problems than many current alternative medical pharmaceutical drugs, some [medical conditions] of which students at our university suffer from, such as the brave men and women who served in our military defending this great nation and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder,” Markovitch said. “Greater scientific research leads to greater medical applications.

“The ‘A’ in A&M stands for ‘agriculture,’” Markovitch continued. “Let’s stay true to that letter. We can be at the forefront of research and humanitarianism. This will require the university to act their own rational interest, and take the stance on the right side of history.”

Lindsey also gave his reasons for advocating the prescription of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

“We don’t have statistics stating that the percentages of the student body that do suffer from these diseases,” Lindsey admitted, “but I do personally know people who suffer from chronic pain and they do have to take very harsh opiates, things such as morphine or hydrocodone to cope with those ailments. And, as many of you probably already know, those are very harsh drugs. They’re highly addictive, and medical marijuana would be a suitable alternative.

“That’s part of the reason why we think it would be appropriate as an educational institution, because this is where we find stuff out,” Lindsey asserted. “I believe that our university calls on us to innovate, to research, to find…and how can we say we’re living up to those ideals if we’re not doing that. And, to address the politicalness of this issue; it’s not a political issue, it’s a humanitarian issue. It goes back to the core issue of justice. Plato, in his writings for Socrates, said that ‘justice is to do no harm.’ We have to ask ourselves that at this moment. By doing nothing and by saying nothing, are we just? Obviously, with the lack of information and with the lack of exploration, we are doing harm.”

After Markovitch and Lindsey made their points, the floor was opened to questions and comments from the members of SGA, at which President Will Horton inquired as to why they chose SGA as their avenue.

“A few weeks ago, SGA met with Senator Bob Hall, and when asked about constituent activism, he said the best way the constituents can raise an issue to their representative or senator is by directly writing them or calling their offices, so why did you choose to come to SGA for a forum, instead of taking it directly to the people in power who can make the immediate change; your state senators, your state representatives, your federal senators, your federal representatives…why bring it to the Student Government Association?” Horton said.

“I have no idea what percentage of the student body supports your views,” he continued. “You said that our own constitution states that we are beholden to the students at our university. Do you have data, numbers, or even a simple poll showing what percentage or what number of students would like this issue to move forward? While I will not presume to speak for my colleagues, but I will say from a personal standpoint that without the overwhelming support of our student body on an issue like this, I would not be comfortable moving forward.”

To this, Markovitch responded, “That’s the initial thing that we tried to do. We tried to take this on the ground level, and most people who want to support this afraid, they are scared to put their name on a list declaring that they support this. If SGA were to actually take a stance on this issue, it would inspire and give a voice to many people who attend this university who are scared to speak out.

“If the university were to make a stance on the side of legalization of medical marijuana, it would be one of many possible lobbying groups that could put pressure on the state, in order to make changes,” Markovitch said.

At the end of the questioning, the members of SGA took a straw poll, to determine whether or not there was sufficient support or interest in authoring a resolution recommending the legalization of marijuana to the state legislature. When the vote was cast by a show of hands, all members were unanimously not in favor of moving forward with resolution.

While attempts to persuade SGA to take an official stance on the issue of the legalization of medical marijuana were not successful, anyone interested in advocating for this or any other issue may contact their state or federal representatives or senators. Hunt County (the county in which the City of Commerce resides) is represented in the state congress by Dan Flynn, in the state senate by Bob Hall, in the U.S. Congress by John Ratcliffe and the U.S. Senate by Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.