On Tuesday, Texas state lawmakers listened to an emotional hearing pertaining to a bill that that would legalize cannabis oils containing cannabidiol (CBD). The bill would allow patients suffering from epilepsy access to the drug. Cannabidiol is a non-euphoric component of marijuana that is known to treat epilepsy and other chronic medical conditions
Republican State Representative Stephanie Klick introduced House Bill 892, dubbed the Compassionate Use Act. By 2018, the measure would allow the state to regulate and distribute cannabis oil to epilepsy patients whose symptoms have not responded to available medication. The measure was left pending by the House Committee on Public Health.
Representative Stephanie Klick, told the committee, “This is a focused bill designed to give people with intractable epilepsy another option when others have failed. [CBD oils] have no street value, and these families have no other options.”
Dr. M. Scott Perry, a pediatric neurologist with Cook Children’s in Fort Worth, said, “If CBD weren’t available in the number of states it is available in, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today. The human data on CBD use is very encouraging. What is frustrating is that I can’t prescribe CBD to patients in my state, in Texas.”
Bill faces opposition
Texas is one of 16 states where marijuana is illegal for medical and recreational use. As of today, 13 states have legalized cannabis oil for certain medical conditions.
Opponents of the bill include representatives of law enforcement agencies. These representatives are concerned that increased access to any component of marijuana would jeopardize public safety. Others are concerned with how the drug would be regulated.
Denton County Sheriff William Travis spoke on behalf of the Sheriff’s Association of Texas. He said, “I am concerned about the other children in the household getting ahold of this medication when the parents aren’t around. As a father, I would do anything for my child. But putting low amounts of marijuana oil in a child’s body where the brain is not fully developed is not the way.”
Emotional testimony from supporters
At the hearing, supporters of the proposal recounted the seizures endured by children who could benefit from cannabis oil. Paige Figi, mother of Charlotte Figi, said, “If you don’t like the way [medical marijuana] is regulated in Colorado, don’t regulate it that way.”
Figi spoke alongside Fahad Afeef, a former Texas resident who moved to Colorado to seek treatment for his son who suffers from intractable epilepsy. Aleef said his family would move back to Texas if this law was passed.
Afeef said, “He was born a normal child, but he is 100 percent dependent on us now. If he had had this option earlier, he may not have lost so much.”
Polls favor legalization in Texas
Last year, a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll showed that 77% of Texans believe that marijuana should be legalized in at least some circumstances.
A number of medical marijuana advocates do not support the proposed legislation because it does do anything to help the people who suffer from other debilitating conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).