AUSTIN (Nexstar) — One Texas leader in medical marijuana is serving its first patient after changes to the state law.
Lawmakers updated the state’s Compassionate Use Act, which was created in 2015 to create a system for physicians to prescribe low-THC cannabis to patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. House Bill 3703, filed by Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, and passed by state lawmakers this year, expands the Texas Compassionate Use Program to serve patients who have terminal cancer, autism, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), seizure disorders and incurable neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Disease. All forms of epilepsy are now covered under the law, which took effect in June.
“This really gives doctors a lot more potential and power in their playbook so to speak in terms of the therapeutic programs they put in place for their patients,” Morris Denton, CEO of Compassionate Cultivation, said. The Texas-based company has one of three licenses issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety to distribute medical marijuana in the state.
“Before, we were very narrowly defined around a specific condition with a specific formulation of medication – we now have the ability to expand in multiple ways in terms of the type of people we treat with different conditions as well as the formulations of medicine that we can provide,” Denton explained.
DPS oversees and regulates the program.
“The Compassionate Use Registry has undergone the modifications necessary to allow the registration of physicians with these additional specialties and to allow prescriptions for the additional conditions,” the agency’s website states.
Compassionate Cultivation announced it is the first dispensary to provide medical cannabis to a Texas patient under the updated state law — a cancer patient in the Austin area.
The patient, Charlotte, 28, was not ready to speak publicly for this report, but through her doctor, shared that she was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a type of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, approximately six months ago. After six rounds of chemotherapy, she and her doctor received approval from DPS to begin doses of an herbal extract containing three parts CBD and two parts THC. The updated Texas law keeps the state’s current dose restriction at .5% THC. THC is the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana.
“It’s something that is critical to have in our tool belt for managing these patients,” Mary Caire, M.D., Charlotte’s doctor, said.
“I’m glad that Texas has been open-minded enough to accept this as a treatment option for some of our sickest patients,” Caire said.
Caire indicated Charlotte was already feeling better after less than a week of taking the oil.
“Her pain has decreased significantly, her nausea is gone and her appetite has returned, so she’s actually able to take in nourishment,” Caire stated. “She said she is also sleeping much better and has an overall sense of well-being with this therapy.”
“I am hoping that in this case will just be a perfect example of someone rising above this challenge, benefiting from the therapy, and being an example to others that this therapy can be very beneficial,” Caire explained.
Texans for Marijuana Policy will be hosting their second annual Marijuana Policy Conference. Participants will get the opportunity to hear from policymakers, health-care professionals and other advocates. More on the event can be found at the Texas Marijuana Policy Conference website here.