AUSTIN (KXAN) — After four states voted in favor Tuesday of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use and with only two months remaining until Texas lawmakers return to the capitol for the next legislative session, advocates for the drug tell KXAN that medical marijuana could soon be legalized.
“The election results on Tuesday were monumental for this country. Prohibition policies have failed and we’re seeing the people of America wanting more sensible policies enacted and that’s what they’ve done,” said Heather Fazio, the Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “We have work to do in Texas. There’s a lot of conversations that need to be had.”
In June 2015, the Texas legislature passed the Compassionate Use Act and Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law. The bill allows patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy to access low THC cannabis oil. This action made Texas the 16th state to allow access to limited medical use of marijuana-derived oils. The Texas Department of Public Safety is regulating the program and must license three dispensing organizations by Sept. 1, 2017.
“Next fall we expect to see dispensaries in the state of Texas and medical cannabis being used by what we hope to be a more inclusive program with patients with debilitating positions in addition to intractable epilepsy,” added Fazio.
For Terri Carriker, the legislation has allowed her daughter, Catherine, who has the condition, to experience some relief.
“Within a month, her seizure activity had reduced dramatically,” said Carriker. “She gained language, cognitively, she was bright and involved. She wasn’t sleeping all day. We had probably three or four nights a week with no seizures at all.”
Catherine, was three and a half when she experienced her first seizure. “They intubated her, she stopped breathing, and the roller coaster started.”
Catherine, now 14, endures seizures nearly every single night. It’s been that way, her mother says, for the past 11 years.
“To go from watching your daughter suffer like we have, to have tried every intervention that we’ve tried… There are no other surgeries. There are no other devices. There are diets, medications, we’ve done everything,” said Carriker.
Medicinal marijuana, Carriker said, made a significant, life-changing impact.
Although the Carriker family has already seen the difference in their daughter, they say the fight isn’t over. The law in Texas applies only to epilepsy patients, not to those who suffer from other medical conditions.
“Doctors need to have this in their toolbag to help kids like Catherine that can benefit, and they need the ability to make the choice about what’s going to benefit their patients, rather than having non-medically trained lawmakers doing that.”
Carriker also says she wants medicinal marijuana legislation passed in Texas, on a larger scale, for safety reasons. “We want legal use here so that it can be consistent product, lab-tested, so we have doctors who can help us.”