On bad days, Kara Zartler slams her fist into her face 3,000 times. Over and over, uncontrollably inflicting pain on herself. Three. Thousand. Times.
Kara, 17, suffers from cerebral palsy, and autism. By the age of 4, she exhibited self-injurious behavior and by the time she reached 6, the self-abuse became a daily occurrence. Her parents, Mark and Christy Zartler, tried everything to provide relief for their daughter, a twin whose sister is healthy.
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They tried antipsychotics. enzymes and sleep aids — nothing the doctors prescribed failed to put an end to the misery. Until one day, Mark’s beer-drinking neighbor buddy threw out the idea: Why not try medical marijuana?
“We were truly at a crossroads,” Mark told The Fresh Toast. “We live in Richardson, Texas (a suburb north of Dallas) and we knew it was illegal. But we felt there was no other choice.”
For Mark and Christy, desperate times called for desperate measures. "My neighbor gave me a pot brownie to give to Kara. I am not really a regular user of marijuana, but I had tried it a little in college. Still, giving it to my child was something Christy and I debated. But it worked instantly. Kara stopped hitting herself. She became more relaxed.
"That marijuana brownie changed our family's life. It's as simple as that," Mark said.
But what is not so simple is the legal landscape in Texas. Two years ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the"Compassionate Use Act," which technically allowed for medical marijuana in rare cases. However, implementing the law has been onerous and complicated.
"Essentially, I am carrying around a felony in my pocket," Mark told The Fresh Toast. "I am risking a lot by publicly speaking out about Kara's medicine, but it is my hope that I will help others and educate the lawmakers. "If I have to go to jail, so be it. Somebody has to do something."
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In an effort to spread the word, Mark last week created a Facebook page featuring videos that demonstrate the healing effects cannabis has on Kara. No longer eating brownies, she is now vaporizing marijuana because of the faster acting effect it has.
"The response to the videos have been amazing," Mark said. "The outpouring of support has been great. We have been flooded with responses. More importantly to us, we feel we are helping others who are in the same boat we are."
On the Facebook page/a>, Mark has a call to action: He is urging viewers to call the Texas legislature to demand a public hearing on Senate Bill 269, a measure that would expand cannabis access to patients with debilitating illnesses like Kara's.
Mark, a software engineer, knows the public is on his side. It's the government that needs convincing.
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