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CBD-only medical marijuana bill heard by Texas legislators

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A bill in the Texas legislature which would legalize medical marijuana in limited form was heard in the Public Health Committee.

House Bill 892 would establish a medical cannabis program by 2018 which allows patients with severe epilepsy to purchase and consume CBD-only marijuana strains in liquid form which contain very little THC, the ingredient which produces a high.

CBD has been shown to be effective in treating some patients who have severe seizures.

Several people testified both for and against the bill according to Texas Tribune.

“This is a focused bill designed to give people with intractable epilepsy another option when others have failed,” the bill’s author, state Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, told the committee. “[CBD oils] have no street value, and these families have no other options.”

“If CBD weren’t available in the number of states it is available in, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today,” said M. Scott Perry, a pediatric neurologist with Cook Children’s in Fort Worth, testifying in favor of the bill. “The human data on CBD use is very encouraging. What is frustrating is that I can’t prescribe CBD to patients in my state, in Texas.”

“If you don’t like the way [medical marijuana] is regulated in Colorado, don’t regulate it that way,” said Paige Figi, a Colorado resident who came to Texas to testify in favor of the legislation.

Her 8-year-old daughter, Charlotte – who now has a strain of medical cannabis, Charlotte’s Web, named after her – suffered more than 1,000 seizures a month before starting on CBD oil three years ago, she said. Now, Charlotte has one or two seizures a month, she said. “If my daughter Charlotte lived here in Texas, she would not be alive today.”

Figi spoke alongside Fahad Afeef, a former Texas resident who relocated to Colorado to seek treatment for his son, who suffers from intractable epilepsy.

“He was born a normal child, but he is 100 percent dependent on us now,” said Afeef, whose son suffered severe seizures for more than four years before they left Texas. “If he had had this option earlier, he may not have lost so much.”

“If we passed this law, would you come back to Texas?” asked state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin. Several committee members were visibly moved by the testimony.

“Yes,” Afeed said. “You would not only be helping us, but you would be helping a lot of other families.”

However some families who have made the move to Colorado say that the legislation does not go far enough, and would not be effective in treating their child’s seizures.

Alexis Bortell is one of those children who has greatly benefited from medical marijuana, however her medication requires both CBD and THC to be effective. After almost two months on her new medicine, she’s experienced only one seizure.

Her father, Dean Bortell, who was present at the hearing, says that without a comprehensive medical marijuana program, his daughter cannot come back to Texas without risking more severe seizure activity. He is set to testify for a second medical bill, House Bill 3785, which would establish a whole plant medical cannabis program in 2016.

There has been continued opposition to all 11 marijuana related bills in the legislature this session, all from the Sheriff’s Association of Texas.

“I am concerned about the other children in the household getting ahold of this medication when the parents aren’t around,” said Denton County Sheriff William Travis, speaking on behalf of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas. “As a father, I would do anything for my child. But putting low amounts of marijuana oil in a child’s body where the brain is not fully developed is not the way.”

Sheriff Travis earlier this year confused marijuana with hemp during an Agriculture and Livestock Committee hearing.

Another medical marijuana bill is set to be heard as well, House Bill 837, which would give patients an affirmative defense in court should they be arrested for marijuana. This bill would enable to them to tell jurors that they consume marijuana for medicinal purposes. Currently defendants can be found in contempt of court if they attempt to tell jurors about their medical use of cannabis.

Last year, a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll showed that 77 percent of Texans believed that marijuana should be legalized in at least some circumstances.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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