Lawmakers hear medical marijuana bill

Originally Posted By Bridget Spencer on MAY 02 2017  for Fox 7 Austin here

*UPDATE* Public testimony ended at around 1:30 a.m. on May 3 in the debate over medical marijuana in Texas.

Cherie Rineker remembers the day when she was diagnosed.

“I was told I had three tumors pressing on my spine and was almost paralyzed and that I had cancer,” said Rineker.

But she couldn’t get access to medical marijuana in Texas. So she went to Colorado for two months.

“During that time my neuropathy which was severe went away within a couple of days. The hydrocodone and morphine I was on I never reached for while I was in Colorado. I slept better,” said Rineker.

Others say the same…that medical marijuana has helped their family. Like the Zartlers who say cannabis calms their severely autistic daughter.

“She’s currently on five prescription medications. But we haven’t found any modern medicines that can rescue her from a fit,” said Mark Zartler.

Right now in Texas, those with a severe form of epilepsy only can get a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana. If passed, HB 2107 would expand that list to include diseases like cancer, and autism.

“The legalization of marijuana is extremely unsafe for the citizens of Texas,” said Dr. Harold Urschel, Chief Medical Strategist of Enterhealth

Doctor Urschel from Dallas says no need to legalize it because of negative long term effects on the brain, but there is an alternative.

“In marijuana there’s a medication called THC. That chemical is already approved by the FDA in a pill form called Marinol. It works just great for pain, anorexia, seizures, it’s really effective but it doesn’t get you high,” said Urschel.

“The issue with it, when you look at Marinol, is it’s strictly one cannabinoid, it doesn’t contain the entourage effect,” said Dr. Robert Marks, anesthesiologist.

Doctors like Robert Marks say no drug is perfect, but marijuana has far more benefits than risks.

“The studies from the Journal of the American Medical Association show a 24.8 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths in the states that have legalized medicinal cannabis,” said Marks.

As for Rineker, she says her fight to live is for her young daughter, and that’s what she says she will do, regardless of the politics.

“I had to make a decision… if want to fight this fight or bail out. I took one look at her and I just knew I have to be here for her,” said Rineker.