I have been privileged to work alongside some of the brightest and most loving parents over the past couple of years in the fight to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Texas. To call this a labor of love doesn't come close to describing what I've seen some of these people put into this work. We are desperate for safe effective medications for our kids. In the 2015 session a small but important amount of headway was made when Governor Abbott signed the compassionate use program (TCUP) into law. This law allows patients with intractable epilepsy to obtain high cbd/low thc medicine to treat seizures. Intractable epilepsy is a rare form of epilepsy and means that seizures are not controlled by pharmaceutical medication or other intervention. The TCUP law requires a patient to have tried at least two medications and have two epileptologist who are registered with the program prescribe the medication. This law also states that the medication can contain no more than .5% thc. THC is the psychotropic part of the plant associated with feelings of being high. Currently there is a gray area of the federal law that allows cbd products made from hemp to contain no more than .3% thc, (marijuana is still federally illegal) so TCUP gives patients access to a tiny bit more THC as well as from true medical cannabis grown in a regulated setting so that patients know they are getting a clean and reliable product. Furthermore, the program allows only three dispensaries across the entire state of Texas to grow this medicine. I have many concerns about the scope of this program and the sustainability of this industry in our state under the current model, but more on that later. For now, I will tell you that I am beyond thrilled to get a chance to see how this medication helps M. He will be one of the first patients in Texas to begin using this homegrown medicine in just a couple of weeks!
My dear friend and fellow warrior mama, Terri, has been at the forefront of this battle from day one. M and her daughter have known each other since preschool. She has been key in providing parent input into the development of this program and has been working closely with the Austin-area dispensary, Compassionate Cultivation. I was honored to be her plus one last Friday evening at a celebration of the first harvest of medication with investors of the company. It was wonderful to be able to tell these investors our stories of our children and how we really do believe having access to this medicine is a matter of life and death. I wish I was exaggerating when I tell you that each and every morning that I go to M's room to check on him, I have a horrid visual that flashes through my brain right before I open the door. I can't type what I see here because just thinking of it now makes me lose my breath. This isn't a joke--we need safer, more effective medicine for our kids.
Compassionate Cultivation has an amazing staff and facility. They are doing the right things to ensure this business is grown properly and so that true research can begin. We need to gain better understanding of which strains of cannabis, in which dosages, work to treat epilepsy most effectively. Anecdotally and with limited research we do know it works....but we are all winging it a bit in terms of which strains to try, how much to dose, and whether its just the cbd and thc of the plant that patients need, or whether any of the other compounds of the plant are beneficial. (For more info on this see 'entourage effect')
We have a lot of work left to do in this state to create a more viable program. Mother's Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism, or 'MAMMA' is dedicated to pursuing the expansion of the TCUP program so that we may have access to whole plant cannabis and expand the list of conditions that qualify to receive this medicine. Please consider searching for a MAMMA chapter in your state for more information on how you can join our cause!