Thursday, for the first time, a patient with uncontrolled epilepsy in Texas walked into a medical cannabis dispensary in Manchaca and bought a bottle of cannabis-based oil.
This comes more than two years after the Lone Star State passed the Compassionate Use Act allowing state-regulated dispensaries to produce and sell CBD oil to eligible patients with intractable epilepsy.
Compassionate Cultivation, the first Texas dispensary, and only dispensary in the Austin area, opened for business Thursday.
Christy Wilkens has been waiting for this moment since her 2-year-old son Oscar began having seizures.
“We just came and picked up our first dose of CBD oil in the hopes that it will help us to control his seizures,” Wilkens said.
Oscar has already tried a handful of different medications to control his epilepsy. The anticonvulsant he's on currently comes with a long list of possible side effects including tremors, insomnia and confusion.
“They're tolerable compared to having seizures, but compared to CBD the list of side effects with Sabril is much longer and much harsher,” said Wilkens.
That's why Oscar’s neurologist Dr. Karen Keough agreed to prescribe him low-THC cannabis-based oil or CBD.
“We're always looking for another tool in the toolkit to try to bring some relief to the people who haven't really found a good treatment yet,” said Keough.
The Epilepsy Foundation said about 150,000 Texans with uncontrolled epilepsy could benefit from the use of CBD oil.
Keough said she was originally skeptical about using medical cannabis to treat epileptic patients, but a number of studies published in recent years convinced her it would be a good option for some.
“So it is not the same thing as ingesting marijuana. It is ingesting a chemical that is extracted from marijuana that is known to be actually pretty safe,” Keough said.
Studies show the oil has been shown to reduce seizures in about 50 percent of people with epilepsy. However, typically only about 10 percent will see their seizures stop completely.
Christy hopes her son Oscar is one of the ten percent.
“It's really hard, as a special needs parent, to research all these available options and it's so frustrating when you find an option, that's a good option that has worked in other places, but you can't get it. So I'm happy that this day has finally come for Texas,” said Wilkens.
The law requires that dispensaries provide reasonable access to patients all across the state. That means anyone unable to come to the dispensary will be able to have the oil delivered.
Compassionate Cultivation will be open Thursday-Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Deliveries will take place Sunday-Tuesday.
Representative Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, who co-authored the Compassionate Use Act, said legislators will likely revisit the law next session. Klick said she would like to see Texas do a research initiative to collect data determining whether it would be beneficial to expand the law to other conditions.