Phillip Martin is deputy director for Progress Texas. Zoe Russell is assistant executive director of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition. Our groups are two of over 25 coalition members of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. Read our take on the 2015 Texas Legislative Session and our plans for 2017.

Marijuana policy reform can improve public safety, boost our economy, and provide much-needed health care options for struggling Texans. Polls show a majority of Texans support sensible marijuana laws, and support comes from Texans of all political backgrounds.

With over a year until the Texas Legislature meets again, now is the time for those supporters to come together and persuade elected officials to bridge the political divide and show that government can get things done.

That’s where we come in. Our organizations — Progress Texas and Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition — are members of the fast-growing Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy coalition. The coalition’s goal is simple: advance sensible marijuana laws that the people of Texas already support.

When the Texas Legislature met earlier this year, our coalition worked with a number of advocates and offices to bring Texas patients safe and legal access to medical marijuana. While what passed is very restrictive, the law allows doctors to prescribe low-THC cannabis — a nonpsychoactive type of marijuana — to epileptic patients in an effort to limit and control seizures. The Texas Department of Public Safety is currently drafting rules to implement the program, which it expects to launch in 2017.

The law represents unprecedented progress for marijuana policy reform because, for the first time, state lawmakers acknowledge and validate marijuana’s medical potential. We have launched a statewide effort to ensure that this act toward reform won’t be the last.

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