COLLEGE STATION, TX – Medical cannabis legalization has made its way back into Texan law, as some lawmakers and advocates see the 2021 session as an opportunity to set the program for compassionate use.
The youngest registered lobbyist in the 87th Texas Legislature, a Texas A&M student and medical cannabis patient, Julia Patterson.
“I really want to be a voice for those in trouble and offer the same opportunity to pursue the hope for a normal life that medical marijuana gave me,” said Julia Patterson, a registered lobbyist for KK125 Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.
In 2008, Julia, a native of Round Top, Texas, was diagnosed with hard-to-treat epilepsy after suffering her first severe seizure as a kindergarten teacher.
“I had 200 seizures a day, each lasting 15 to 30 seconds, and I lost a lot of life, as you can imagine,” said Patterson.
Julia went through multiple treatment options, countless prescriptions, and surgeries, but it was medical cannabis that was Julia’s second chance in a normal life. Julia has not had a seizure in over a year.
“What has changed for you? [Julia] Most of it was something that was not externally visible day-to-day, but we knew it was having an effect and it was clearly indicative of a remarkable improvement in treatment response that no other medicine could “says Dr. Karen Keough, a certified pediatric neurologist specializing in the treatment of difficult-to-treat epilepsy with Child Neurology Consultants in Austin and serving as chief medical officer of Texas Original Compassionate Cultivation.
“No other treatment, no brain surgery, no diet therapy, no medicine, no electrical therapy with VNS had her EEG cleaned up by the time she started CBD therapy.” Dr. Keough added.
In this year’s legislature, Julia is advocating amendments to Senate Law 339, the Compassionate Use Program, to remove restrictions on qualification requirements to now include non-terminal cancer, PTSD, and chronic pain. ultimately the power to prescribe life changing drugs into the hands of doctors and remove the THC limit; Optimizing cannabinoid levels for various symptoms to ensure patients get the relief they need, according to the THC levels recommended by their doctor.
“Right now, patients are overly stressed by side effects, resulting in the need for a large amount of oil to achieve that amount of THC,” says Patterson.
“So it would be very helpful to have a higher concentration of THC in these treatments, even if it doesn’t change the total daily amount of THC that individual patients take,” says Dr. Keough.
Another area that Dr. Keough would like to address is the logistics of getting patients their medication, including reducing delivery costs. Julia says she has to travel between 50 and 100 miles to pick up medical cannabis here.
“It takes some planning in advance as there is only one location. So either I have to go to Austin or they have a van that goes through Texas, ”Patterson says.
“The cost to the patient is also a huge constraint because, as it is a very chronic therapy, we want to offer this high quality treatment as cheaply as possible,” says Dr. Keough.
Julia is confident that changes have been made during this legislative session.
“The past year has been a challenging health concern, and I believe Texas law will be compassionate, especially when it comes to helping people with illness and other debilitating problems,” said Patterson.
Julia will also advocate for young cancer patients whose fertility is affected by treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, and encourage lawmakers to pass the Law on Truth In Medicine. This enables the open exchange of information related to the “off-label” drug use in Texas.