In last ditch effort, Texas patients push for expansion of medical marijuana use

AUSTIN (KXAN) -- The Zartler family made it a point to come to Austin from Dallas Monday morning to make sure members of the House Calendars Committee schedule a vote on House Bill 2107, a bill that would expand the use of medical marijuana.

Kara Zartler has cerebral palsy and severe autism which makes her aggressive toward herself and the people who help take care of her. Her doctor prescribes medicine to help treat her behavior, but her parents say it hasn't helped. Instead they turned to vaporized marijuana which they say calms her down in less than five minutes.

"It's overwhelming because the stories that the parents write and post to us are so depressing. I mean the children -- when I read the messages from other parents I thought my child isn't as bad as theirs, and at least I have the ability to speak out for these children that can't speak for themselves," said Kara's mother Christy Zartler.

Currently in Texas, only patients with severe forms of epilepsy can treat their condition with low THC cannabis oil. Gov. Greg Abbott approved the law to allow epilepsy patients access to cannabis oil in 2015.

If HB 2107 passes, patients suffering from more than 22 conditions including cancer, HIV, Crohn's Disease and PTSD would be eligible to medical marijuana. Patients would work with their doctors to decide the best treatment options. Independent laboratories would be allowed to manufacture cannabis oil with oversight by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The House Committee on Public Health passed the bill by a 7-2 vote last week. It has yet to be scheduled for a vote on the House floor. Thursday is the deadline for bills to receive tentative approval in the Texas House; bills that don't get approved by then are effectively dead for the session.

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