AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two years after Texas legalized medical marijuana for patients with severe, otherwise untreatable epilepsy, patients are finally close to benefiting from the law.
Earlier in the week, Austin dispensary Compassionate Cultivation received the final licensing it needed to begin growing cannabis. The company planted a couple of hundred seeds on Tuesday, which are now beginning to germinate.
CEO Morris Denton says throughout the growth and refinement processes, his company will hold high standards in keeping the product consistent, continually taking measurements and keeping a clean growing environment.
Generally, it takes the crop about three months to grow and be refined into oil ready for distribution. However, Denton says with ideal growth conditions in his state of the art facility, his team could have cannabis oil ready to go for patients as early as December.
Families that endure the pain of intractable epilepsy, which isn’t treatable by prescription drugs, say it can’t come soon enough.
“It’s another tool in our toolkit of possible things that can help our kids,” said Debbie Tolany, whose 14-year-old son, Miles, suffers severe seizures every few days.
Tolany says Miles is on anticonvulsant medication, which doesn’t help him and has bad side effects.
“It’s awful, it’s really, really awful,” she said of feeling helpless in being able to control her son’s seizures. “He stops breathing, he will turn blue, he will aspirate, he’s very disoriented.”
Tolany plans to buy cannabis oil for Miles from Compassionate Cultivation. Denton says he empathizes with families like hers. “I have a family history with epilepsy,” he said. “So this is not just a business endeavor for me.”
Denton says tens of thousands patients in Texas qualify for his product, so he’s not worried about demand.
“We can make a go of this business just with epilepsy,” he said.
He’s optimistic, however, that it could evolve into more. “It’s our hope that if we’re able to deliver on the promise of this medicine, and we’re also able to create science that allows to prove out this medicine’s impact on other conditions, that the state will take notice,” Denton said.
Tolany says she’s hopeful for the same. In addition to epilepsy, her son has severe autism and suffers several other diseases and disorders. She contends medical cannabis could be helpful in many other cases, as well.
“We’re excited for any changes we can get in our very conservative state, but we need a lot more,” she said. “We need to evolve with the times and realize that this is a very viable medication for a lot of people and a lot of qualifying conditions.”