On Monday, June 1, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law that will allow individuals who suffer with a drug resistant form of epilepsy to access low doses of cannabis oil to reduce their seizures.
The condition is called intractable epilepsy (IE) and it affects one-third of all people who suffer with epilepsy. Current prescription medicines do not work well, or at all, to control their seizures but the cannabis oil has shown successes with this atypical brain disorder.
The legislation, Senate Bill 339, was authored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) and Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth). Now signed into law, it legalizes oils containing cannabidiol or CBD oil, a non-euphoric marijuana extract that has shown great promise in treating IE.
It will be a regulated substance that the state distributes to epilepsy patients who have not responded successfully to existing federally approved prescription medications.
Before signing the bill, Abbott pointed out that this low-THC cannabis oil does not open the door to broader marijuana legislation,” the Dallas Morning News reported.
THC (Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound in marijuana that produces an altered state. It is extracted from the plants in a low-THC form to help control the IE without producing a high feeling.
“It will, however, provide healing and hope for children that are afflicted by unrelenting seizures caused by epilepsy,” Abbott said.
“There is currently no cure for intractable epilepsy and many patients have had little to no success with currently approved drugs,” said Abbott in a statement following the signing ceremony that took place at the Texas state capitol in Austin.
“However, we have seen promising results from CBD oil testing and with the passage of this legislation, there is now hope for thousands of families who deal with the effects of intractable epilepsy every day.”
Joining the Governor for the signing was Zachariah Moccia, 25, who has suffered with Dravat Syndrome, a severe form of drug-resistant IE, since he was two years-old.
Even with the passage of the Texas Compassionate Use Act, Abbott has made it clear that Texas was not going to legalize conventional marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes under his watch.
During the 84th Legislature, a handful of marijuana bills were presented, including to decriminalize or reduce penalties for possession of Mother Nature’s happy weed, which Breitbart Texas reported. SB 339 was the only one of them to make it through the session and become law. More than 20 states allow some form of medicinal marijuana.
SB 339 was dogpiled upon by proponents and opponents on the cannabis front alike. Some felt this bill would lead to legalizing marijuana; while others did not believe it went far enough, leaving out cancer patients and people suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Only IE patients will be authorized for the use of CBD oil. It will require two certified specialists to approve the drug for a patient and requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to regulate entities who meet the strict guidelines for manufacturing and dispensing CBD oil.
Eltife indicated that the dispensaries will function similar to compounding pharmacies, according to the Texas Tribune. Only a neurologist or epileptologist will be able to prescribe CBD oil. The law will go into effect on Sept. 1, 2015.
IE afflicts an estimated 149,000 individuals in Texas, typically children, and patients with IE can suffer hundreds of seizures per week.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.