Medical marijuana in Texas: What you need to know

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

HOUSTON - Texans can now access medical marijuana legally because of a law signed by Governor Abbott.

In compliance with the Compassionate Use Program, the first dispensary will soon open in Schulenburg, Texas.

Knox Medical officials said the Department of Public Safety makes weekly inspections as they prepare to open.

Founder and CEO of Knox Medical, Jose Hidalgo, said they chose Schulenburg because it is almost right in the middle of San Antonio, Austin and Houston. They are on schedule to begin deliveries next month.

“We'll go to the major treatment centers and talk to the physicians and find out, 'Do any of your patients qualify for medical cannabis?’” Hidalgo explained.

What will they be licensed to make?

According to DPS, they are authorized for Low-THC Cannabis as the plant Cannabis sativa L., and any part of that plant or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, preparation, resin, or oil of that plant that contains:

  • A. Not more than 0.5 percent by weight of tetrahydrocannabinols; and
  • B. Not less than 10 percent by weight of cannabidiol.

Who will get access to cannabis?

The Compassionate Use Program is limited to patients in Texas with intractable epilepsy of any age.

However, Texas Children's Hospital is planning a different approach.

“A pharmaceutical-grade medication in a clinical trial, with the proper regulations and safety considerations, is something that we would propose as a better pathway than just making an oil and giving it to children,” Dr. Clark said.

Clark said he thinks it’s only a matter of time before a drug showing promise in clinical trials (Epidiolex) will be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Clark said he will wait and prescribe something like that instead of ordering something from a licensed dispensary.

“There is an abundance of studies done out there. None of them are going to fit what an FDA clinical type trial are,” Hidalgo countered. “The reason why the Texas legislature passed CBD cannabis like other states is because the parents of these very, very sick children are demanding it.”

Who determines if you're eligible for cannabis?

  • A patient may be prescribed low-THC cannabis if:
  • The patient is a permanent resident of Texas;
  • The patient is diagnosed with intractable epilepsy;
  • The qualified physician determines the risk of the medical use of low-THC cannabis by a patient is reasonable in light of the potential benefit for the patient; and
  • A second qualified physician has concurred with the determination.

Dr. Clark warns that just like all medications, CBD oil has limits. It's not a miracle cure and does not work for everyone.

Clark said researchers are not sure why it shows benefits in some patients and not in others.

The FDA still classifies medical marijuana as unsafe.

Is smoking the plant legal in Texas?

No. Smoking is specifically excluded as a medical use, according to DPS.

What do Houston parents think?

Max and Kelly Beatty’s daughter is currently taking Epidiolex in a clinical trial.

“Given the choice, I would take the FDA drug and give that to Scarlett every time but that's not an option for everyone right now,” Max Beatty said about his daughter with a severe form of epilepsy. “I just want the other families in Texas who are dealing with what we're dealing with and worse, I want them to have a shot at what we get. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't.”

The Beattys said Epidiolex is helping their daughter, Scarlett, to maintain smaller doses of her medication.

She has fewer seizures and she's more alert.

“She gets to do so much more now than she ever did before so she's happy now, I think,” Kelly said.

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