Abbott approves access to cannabis oil, won't legalize recreational pot

Associated Press - AUSTIN (AP) - Republican Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas won't legalize marijuana for medicinal or recreational use for as long as he's in office.

Abbott ended his first legislative session Monday by making clear that pot laws won't be relaxed under his watch. His comments came while signing a bill that gives epilepsy patients access to low doses of cannabis oil.

"There is currently no cure for intractable epilepsy and many patients have had little to no success with currently approved drugs," Gov. Abbott said in a statement. "However, we have seen promising results from CBD oil testing and with the passage of this legislation, there is now hope for thousands of families who deal with the effects of intractable epilepsy every day."

The extract comes from marijuana plants and helps control seizures but doesn't produce a high.

More than 20 states allow some form medicinal marijuana, but Abbott signaled that Texas won't be joining the list. His stance isn't surprising given his staunch conservatism. But supporters of marijuana reform have expressed hope that limited approval of cannabis oil would be a step toward change in Texas.

"We are all kind of in the same situation," said Marcy Bingham. She has tried 16 types of drugs for her son, Jacob, who has epilepsy. "So many needles, his veins are no good. We've lost all of his veins now."

Bingham hopes she has found the right solution with cannabis oil.

"We're very hard to change in Texas. Very difficult to make change," she said. "It's a huge change and we know that it's going to help kids."

"I feel like I graduated today. I took Government 101 and I got an A+," said Leslie Moccia. "The bill passed. It was signed today. It's so surreal."

She hopes the law can help her son Zachariah, who has suffered from seizures for years.

"It gives us hope. We were out of treatment options," Moccia added. "This gives us another tool in our toolbox so to say."

Opponents of this bill attacked it from both sides, with some saying the move would lead to marijuana legalization. Others were upset the law did not go far enough and left out cancer patients and people with PTSD.

Only epilepsy patients are eligible for the treatment.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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