A six-year-old girl just became first medical marijuana patient in Texas. Cannabis is an effective medicine for anyone seeking relief from pain, a method to de-stress or a sleep aid. Meaning: medical marijuana is good medicine for everyone and anyone. Texas medical marijuana, however, is all about the kids.
On Thursday, an anonymous six-year-old girl who suffers intractable epilepsy became the first legal medical marijuana patient in Texas.
Knox Medical, licensed to provide cannabis in the state under the name Cansortium Texas, announced the victory in a statement sent to the press.
It took almost three years for Texas’s medical marijuana law to help its first patient. We don’t know her name—it has been withheld to protect her privacy—and we don’t know how many of the other 150,000 people suffering from epilepsy in the state will be able to receive cannabis.
The state blew an initial deadline to license marijuana providers. And restricting medical marijuana to CBD-only—no THC—is a fallacy. Even worse, the girl whose battle with epilepsy inspired Texas’s marijuana law still doesn’t have any.
Still, a milestone is a milestone. And make no mistake: Texas medical marijuana is a very big deal.
Whenever and wherever marijuana legalization appears in America, it arrives carried on the backs of sick people.
In California, where voters legalized medical marijuana in 1996, the ghastly suffering of HIV/AIDS patients inspired the Compassionate Use Act and the nation’s first medical marijuana law.
Cannabis appears to have potential in aiding cancer patients, whose pain is intolerable and who often can’t manage to eat thanks to chemotherapy. In Montana, it took the death of four-year-old pediatric cancer patient Cash Hyde to reveal medical marijuana’s value—and the steep price paid when lawmakers decide to restrict cannabis access.
In Texas, an organized campaign of open lawbreaking—weed civil disobedience—shamed lawmakers into finally taking action. Mothers of autistic children forced to defy state law to obtain medicine went public with their stories.
Other kids—like Elissa Howard, now seven years old—put their suffering on display.
Elissa experiences 30 seizures every day, according to her parents. Terrifying enough on their own, seizures can lead to permanent brain damage, and the mainstream pharmaceutical treatments can lead to terrible side effects. So the Howards turned to cannabis—and only the coincidence of a connection to a state lawmaker through family led to legal protection, according to the Dallas-based CBS affiliate.
There’s still Texas-sized room for improvement. Only three providers in the state can provide marijuana-derived oil. Very little THC is allowed, meaning the medicine’s applicability is severely limited.
Forget trips to the pharmacy: A social worker or nurse must deliver Texas medical marijuana directly to a patient’s home. Only seventeen doctors sprinkled throughout the state can write recommendations.
Only patients with intractable epilepsy are eligible. And they must obtain paperwork from two doctors: A state-certified neurologist, and then a second independent physician.
These are all reasons why Elissa Howard isn’t a registered medical marijuana patient in the very registry she helped inspire.
Painful and obvious as that irony is, there’s still reason to celebrate—while pushing for more from Texas medical marijuana.
“In spite of the program’s unreasonably restrictive nature, we’re really happy to see the (cannabidiol) is getting into the hands of at least one patient who needs it,” Heather Fazio, political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told the New York Post.
From here, the pressure will be on Texas lawmakers to expand. And that’s a good thing.