Who can benefit from state-legal medical marijuana — and how

It’s a new era for Texas, with a certain kind of medical cannabis now available to qualifying patients.

In recent weeks, state-licensed providers have opened for business under the state’s landmark Compassionate Use Act (Senate Bill 339), which allows qualified physicians to prescribe low-THC medical cannabis to patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. Many Texans are wondering how to go about qualifying for and obtaining medical cannabis under this law.

As a neurologist and epileptologist who is approved by the Texas Department of Public Safety to prescribe medical cannabis under the CUA, allow me to illuminate the potential of this kind of medical cannabis for certain patients and clarify the process of qualifying for low-THC cannabis under Texas law.

Cannabidiol for epilepsy

Approximately 30 percent of people with epilepsy continue to have seizures despite conventional treatments. Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant, has emerged as a promising alternative treatment option.

Research indicates CBD treatments may decrease the frequency of convulsive seizures in some patients suffering with intractable epilepsy. Many patients and caregivers have come forward across the country in recent years reporting positive results to CBD.

CBD first gained recognition as a potentially promising treatment for certain seizure disorders in 1980, when Israeli biochemist Raphael Mechoulam released promising findings from a study on epilepsy patients undergoing CBD treatments.

In 2013, the alternative treatment began garnering mainstream attention in the United States when CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurologist, covered the story of Charlotte Figi, a young girl suffering from a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome, whose symptoms greatly improved with the use of CBD.

Gupta’s coverage set off a wave of scientific interest across the country and paved the way for new legislation in many states allowing for the medical use

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