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Texas Needs To Expand Conditions Under Limited Marijuana Program

The Texas Compassionate Use Act, which opened the door for medical marijuana in the state, will go into full effect Sept. 1. The bill allows for patients to be prescribed “low-THC” cannabis as medication. By Sept. 1, the Texas Department of Public Safety must license at least three business, known as “dispensing organization.” These licenses will authorize those businesses to cultivate, process and dispense low-THC cannabis to prescribed patients.

However, the only medical condition that allows doctors to prescribe this “low-THC” cannabis is intractable epilepsy. Marijuana advocates have openly questioned if the bill is too limiting in nature, and if it will change in the future.

One North Texas couple hopes that change comes sooner rather than later, as they recently told NBC DFW.

The Zartlers have an autistic daughter, Kara, who regularly has violent fits. As her father, Mark Zartler, said, “She closed-fisted punches her cheeks and her ears, drawing blood.”

His wife Christy added: “It’s painful. I feel like I’m in hell on Earth.”

Both parents said their daughter was on over a dozen of prescriptions, but nothing would cure her violent fits. That’s when a neighbor suggested trying cannabis. Though they initially contemplated the stigma revolving around cannabis, they followed their neighbor’s advice and the medicine did its job.

“This is safer than allowing her to hit herself, and she has a better day,” Mark said. “It always works.”

Now Kara has been taking cannabis treatments to calm her fits since 2013. The Zartlers have gone public with the treatments, posting online videos displaying the before and after effects of when their daughter receives the medicine.

But when the legislative session ended this year, their daughter remained excluded from participating in the Texas Compassionate Use Act. Treating their daughter with the medicine she needs wasn’t decriminalized. The bill remains entrenched in its limiting form, though that won’t stop the Zartlers from continue to advocate for change.

“[Kara’s] pharmacy medications are more harmful than marijuana,” Christy said, also noting her daughter only takes two prescriptions and two over-the-counter medications since using cannabis. “I want to help people. I want parents of children like her to know there’s a better life.”



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