Family pushing for bill expanding access to medical marijuana in Texas

A rare type of epilepsy is the only way medical cannabis is prescribed in the state. One Houston family says it saved their daughter’s life and now they’re pushing for a bill to help people with other types of conditions.

Lora Taylor says her 37-year-old daughter, Julie, has intractable epilepsy and used to have an average of up to 95 seizures a month. Julie has tried 26 of the 28 medications suitable for her condition. Her options seemed to be running thin until she was prescribed CBD oil by her pediatric neurologist in September.

“I had never seen anything work that well, that effectively in really in 36 years. Most of her seizures were anywhere from 3 to 25 minutes. But after the first 30 days using the CBD oil, that was reduced to two 10-second seizures,” Taylor said.

Over the last eight months, Taylor said there's been dramatic improvement in the frequency and severity of Julie's seizures. She says not only has her mobility improved, Julie’s now able to sleep through the night.

“She used to not be able to move her arms or put her arms down at all,” Taylor said.

Julie's rare form of epilepsy is currently one of the only qualifying types of debilitating medical conditions eligible for medical cannabis under state law.

House Bill 1365, authored by Representative Eddie Lucio, would expand eligibility to include patients with other debilitating medical conditions like cancer, autism, PTSD, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Tourettes, Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy. The bill would also establish a Cannabis research program and review board.

Dr Joshua Rotenberg, a pediatric neurologist who specializes in epilepsy, said the low-THC cannabis isn't a one-size-fits-all answer for these conditions. He said the success rate can vary from patient to patient but rather, it's having the option available for families like the Taylors who feel like they're running out of time.

“Instead of being hung up about the diagnoses, it opens it up for discussion and application,” Dr. Rotenberg said.

HB 1365 was voted and approved by the House Monday. The bill will head to the Senate next for consideration.