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Mothers of autistic children lobby Texas legislators for medical marijuana

Amy Lou Fawell and Vincent Lopez, who suffers from Becker's Muscular Dystrophy. Vincent's mother was at the capitol event to accept MAMMA's first annual "A Mother's Heart" award for all her years of sacrificial love and dedication to her son.
Amy Lou Fawell and Vincent Lopez, who suffers from Becker’s Muscular Dystrophy. Vincent’s mother was at the capitol event to accept MAMMA’s first annual “A Mother’s Heart” award for all her years of sacrificial love and dedication to her son.

Mothers of autistic children were in Austin last week to speak with legislators about the need for a medical marijuana program in Texas.

The group, Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA), has been lobbying legislators hard and educating them about the success autistic children have had from medical cannabis treatments.

Other groups were present as well, including Texas Coalition for Compassionate Care, The Epilepsy Family Support Group, Texans for Medical Freedom, and the Patient Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics. Representatives of local National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws chapters and Marijuana Policy Project were on hand as well.

“I think it was amazing that three legislative offices turned up to talk about their bills (Rep Naishtat, COS Brian Schufelt for Rep Klick, and Senator Menendez)” said Amy Lou Fawell, one of the co-founders of MAMMA. “There were about 50 people there, families, patients and advocates, and many of them had never even been to the capitol before. All of the legislators spoke powerfully about their bills.”

Fawell said that of the 23 states with medical marijuana programs, none of them have autism as a qualifying condition. She said the group is pushing for a whole plant medical bill in Texas with autism included as a qualifying condition.

Thalia Michelle, the other co-founder of MAMMA, stated “we are calling on Texas Lawmakers to lead the nation and include autism as a qualifying condition.”

Fawell added, “this wasn’t just for autism families, there were children represented there who had a variety of issues including cerebral palsy, Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, Dravat syndrome, intractable epilepsy, Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, Static Encephalopathy, Refractory epilepsy, Sensory processing disorder, tourrette’s syndrome, and a child with down’s syndrome who had also suffered a stroke in utero.”

Texas Marijuana Policy Advocacy Workshops — January 2018
Texas Marijuana Policy Advocacy Workshops — January 2018

“House Bill 892 is historic in the sense that Conservatives are recognizing the medicinal qualities of cannabis and taking a public stance for the first time” Fawell continued. “Certainly, House Bill 3785, the whole plant bill, is comprehensive and covers the greatest number of patients. If passed, it would make the other bills superfluous. Although not everyone there was in agreement about those two bills, we all could agree on House Bill 837 as it would be a safety net for patients, caregivers and doctors if nothing else passes. Talking to Legislators about next steps for these three bills was our focus, specifically, asking that they get a hearing.”

There currently three types of bills pertaining to medical marijuana in the Texas, including HB 892 which is a CBD-only bill, HB 3785 which would fully establish a medical marijuana program, and HB 837 which would allow patients to tell jurors in court that they consume cannabis for medical reasons.

Fawell concluded, “the afternoon was spent advocating for our children. With a list of committee members in hand, thanks to Caitlin Dunklee of Texans for Medical Freedom, we systematically sent families to each and every office of the Public Health Committee and as many as possible from Calendars as well as Health and Human Services. We talked to a lot of staffers, but also got to see a few Legislators. As families came back to our home base on E1, they were obviously empowered by telling their stories and I’m certain that many will make the trip again to advocate for their children. Whether or not Legislators agreed with us they listened with respect and compassion and judging by the number of medical marijuana bills this session (and the fact that they have all gone to committee) moms, dads, caregivers and patients are reaching their hearts and minds.”

By: Stephen Carter

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 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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