Category Archives: News

A family’s hope: An Austin girl and the case for medical marijuana

Her parents say they had exhausted every medical option currently available. Then, in spring 2013, they tried cannabidiol, or CBD oil, the non-psychoactive element of marijuana.

A family’s hope: An Austin girl and the case for medical marijuana photo
Jane gives her 12-year-old daughter Christy one of six prescription medications needed to treat her epilepsy via a gastrostomy tube (g-tube). Christy has had epilepsy since she was 31/2 years old. After 20 different prescription drugs and surgery failed to relieve her symptoms, the family decided to try medical marijuana, which is illegal in Texas. The CBD oils were also given to Christy via her g-tube. The family says that they were the most effective medication to date. They ran out of their illegal supply in October 2013. (RESHMA KIRPALANI / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

During the next six months, they saw an improvement in Christy. She had fewer seizures and improved cognitively. She was able to answer more questions, and her responses were quicker.

There weren’t the side effects of other drugs, her parents say. Yet this conservative family, whose relationship with God as Christ’s followers informs how they live their lives, worried about getting caught and what that would do to their other children — Alice, 21, Joe, 19, and Lex, 16 — and to Christy. (These are not the real names of the family members and their last name is not being used in this story because medical marijuana use is not legal in Texas.)

Their supply dried up, and they watched Christy slowly return to being less verbal and having more seizures.

A family’s hope: An Austin girl and the case for medical marijuana photo
“Sometimes, (I think) it would have been easy if she had been born already having seizures and never having developed for those three years that she saw how happy and joyful she was,” said Tony about his 12-year-old daughter Christy. (RESHMA KIRPALANI / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

They and other parents like them want medical marijuana to be like any other drug a doctor prescribes. Now, they have found themselves as advocates for a hot-button issue, even though all they really want is to keep their daughter from withdrawing back into herself.

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For six months, Statesman videographer Reshma Kirpalani has followed this family’s decision to use medical marijuana to treat their daughter’s epilepsy. They tell their story on the agreement of anonymity.

VIDEO: Is Texas Ready for Medical Marijuana?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Baker Institute, Rice University (Houston, Texas)

Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana programs, but they differ widely on such matters as the range of conditions qualifying for treatment, the ease of obtaining permits for use, and the right to grow one’s own medical marijuana.

This discussion of the therapeutic promise and legislative possibility for medical marijuana in Texas will feature an experienced legal grower and dispensary operator from New Mexico, a physician, a Baker Institute drug policy expert, a veteran Texas legislator, and current user and non-user advocates and activists.


Terri Davis Carriker
Advocate for Families of Children With Epilepsy

Amy Lou Fawell
President, Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana For Autism (MAMMA)

Vincent Lopez
Director of Patient Outreach, Texas Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)
Founder, Patient Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics

William Martin, Ph.D.
Director, Drug Policy Program, Baker Institute

Leslie Grady McAhren
Executive Director and Director of Research, CG Corrigan

The Honorable Elliott Naishtat
Texas State Representative, District 49

Katharine A. Neill, Ph.D.
Alfred C. Glassell III Postdoctoral Fellow in Drug Policy, Baker Institute

Jeronimo Saldana
Coordinator, Movement Building Team, Drug Policy Alliance

Neeraj Shah, M.D.
Physician, Seton Medical Center

The cannabis industry: Growing pains for now, but success will come

BIV-CannabisIndustry“Representatives of the Baker Institute Drug Policy Program, in partnership with the South Texas College of Law, went to the Marijuana Investment Conference [Oct. 5-6th in Houston Texas] to talk to industry insiders about how they envisioned the future of the cannabis industry. Several common themes emerged. All of the attendees we talked to were excited about the profit potential for the emerging industry and cited the additional tax revenue and economic development opportunities as the greatest economic benefits to legalization.

“Not surprisingly, they also also favored a free-market legalization model, as distinguished from full state regulation, which is to be implemented in Uruguay in 2015. (Under the Uruguay model, the government will regulate marijuana production, sale, and consumption. Growers, sellers, and consumers will have to register with the Uruguayan government.) However, even though there was strong support for the free market model, several attendees also stressed the importance of the industry’s not becoming dominated by corporations and large-scale production. They also favored high-quality product standards, organically certified cannabis, and stringent testing for mold, mildew and other contaminants.”

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Texas Puts Marijuana Reform on Legislative Agenda for 2015

Texas Supports LegalizationMarijuana reform in Texas has been a long time coming, but as the end of this momentous year in cannabis legalization draws to a close, it is now on the legislative road map of reform, potentially as soon as 2015. The State Legislature plans to take up decriminalization in January, on the heels of states around states around the country that will be getting serious about implementing new voter driven laws post November.

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First offenders could soon get a pass on pot

A move to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana emerged Wednesday as a major issue in the contentious race for Harris County District attorney with both candidates DA Ogg Press Conferenceclaiming ownership of the idea. At a news conference, Republican Devon Anderson, the incumbent, said that beginning Monday, non-violent first offenders carrying less than 2 ounces of marijuana will be able to escape prosecution by performing eight hours of community service or going through a drug awareness class.

“We are targeting the people we believe are self-correcting and will be ‘scared straight’ by being handcuffed and transported,” Anderson said. “Our goal is to keep these individuals from entering the revolving door of the criminal justice system.”

The announcement, a month before Anderson faces Democrat Kim Ogg in November’s election for district attorney, brought harangues from the challenger who in August announced her idea for dealing with misdemeanor marijuana possession.

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Conservative Representative Tan Parker, opposes jailing Texans for the possession of small amounts of marijuana

By: Roger M. Jones
Dallas News

“[Would you support legislation to eliminate jail time for small amounts of marijuana?]

“Yes, I would. The time has come for us to do this and take a thoughtful approach. And so what you’ll see me do if I have the privilege of being re-elected by the people of Denton County in November, and the Speaker would continue to have me as his corrections chairman, I think you’ll see me work with the right and the left, which is kind of interesting that they’re coming together on this topic — the experts on both sides, to take action in these areas.

“…we’re as tough on crime as we’ve ever been. We’re also being more intelligent on crime, and, I think, doing the right thing for taxpayers, protecting families and providing counseling and rehabilitative services, which are so critical, as opposed to spending time in a jail cell.”

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Legalize Medical Marijuana, Doctors Say in Survey

By R. Scott Rappold
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD

A majority of doctors say that medical marijuana should be legalized nationally and that it can deliver real benefits to patients, a new survey by WebMD/Medscape finds.

WebMD’s web site for health professionals surveyed 1,544 doctors as more than 10 states consider bills to legalize medical marijuana. It is already legal in 21 states and Washington, DC.

The survey found solid support for those legalization efforts, with most doctors saying medical marijuana should be legal in their states. They agreed that medical marijuana should be an option for patients. The survey included doctors from more than 12 specialties and 48 states.

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