Pubdate: Fri, 01 Dec 2017
Source: Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
Copyright: 2017 Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Author: Jared L. Christopher


Within weeks an estimated 150,000 Texas patients suffering from
untreatable epilepsy will have a new means of relief.

Cannabidiol (CBD), a form of medical marijuana, will finally be
delivered to patients who qualify under the state's very strict
guidelines. The CBD reduces or halts convulsive epileptic seizures but
doesn't get the patients stoned.

Right now, the treatment will be available only for certain epilepsy
patients, and it's highly controlled.

We believe availability should be expanded for treatment of other
conditions when there's evidence those patients can be helped. We urge
state lawmakers to begin work through the political and medical
hurdles now so they can make that happen when they meet in 13 months.

There are several state legislators already gearing up for the debate
and Texas Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, will be a leading voice.

Klick co-authored the 2015 legislation known as the Compassionate Use
Act, which is making CBD available. She told the Star-Tel e gram
Editorial Board it was initially "hard to sell this idea" to some
Republican leaders including the governor and lieutenant governor.
Skeptics worried that medical marijuana could be abused.

Klick said research provided evidence that CBD would benefit patients
with epilepsy. She didn't support an unsuccessful bill last year for
treating other conditions, citing "inadequate research."

Sen. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, authored that 2017 bill, which
would have made medical marijuana available in Texas to treat about 20
"debilitating medical conditions" including cancer, traumatic brain
injury, autism and post-traumatic stress disorder. Menendez was
especially vocal about expanding use for veterans with PTSD.

"Would we rather have them doped up on opioids?" Menendez asked the
editorial board. "We have an opioid crisis in this country."

Menendez said research can be skewed to benefit pharmaceutical
companies and others who may not support greater availability of
medical marijuana. He wants physicians to decide which patients
receive the treatment.

On one thing, however, Klick and Menendez agree: There needs to be
more state-sanctioned research into the effectiveness of medical
marijuana. The federal government won't support that research because
it still considers marijuana illegal, even though 29 states have
approved its use in some form.

"Texas is well-positioned with Tier One universities. They can do the
research into cannabis," she said. Klick believes private funding, not
state tax dollars, will pay for the work.

While Menendez said much of the necessary evidence for expanding
medical marijuana use is already available, he learned last session
how difficult convincing lawmakers will be.

He said Klick's idea for doing some home-grown research sounds like a
good idea to get the ball rolling.

We urge Klick, Menendez and other like-minded lawmakers to put their
heads together soon and identify common goals. The groundwork for
getting this done must be laid before lawmakers convene in 2019.

This shouldn't be a partisan issue. There are ailing people in Texas
who need relief.

Let's help them get it.
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MAP posted-by: Matt