BROWNSVILLE – Medical marijuana is still essentially illegal in Texas. That’s not stopping many families from using it.
Right now, a Texas law allows patients with epilepsy to have access to CBD oil. Lawmakers are hoping to expand that law to let some Texas families who moved for access to legal marijuana to come home. It would also bring families using it illegally in the state to come out of the shadows.
One of the families using marijuana illegally in Texas is the Zartler family. They live in Richardson, Texas. Kara Zartler has cerebral palsy and severe autism. Self-injurious behavior is one of her symptoms. Her parents found marijuana can stop it. They posted a video of them giving her marijuana through a nebulizer in February.
An intern showed that video to State Representative Eddie Lucio III. “I saw the before and after video that the family had put together and was really inspired to try to do something,” he said.
He filed House Bill 2107 not long after. The bill would legalize medical marijuana in Texas. More than half of the Texas House of Representatives supported it. “It’s hard to change the minds of lawmakers on several issues, but this is not one,” Lucio said. “I think if that bill came to the floor and had a straight up-or-down vote, it would definitely pass the House without question.”
The Texas Senate is a little more skeptical. A Senate bill on the issue died before even going to committee. The bipartisan support at the capital for the House Bill gives Kara Zartler’s family hope.
“What I know is that it works on my daughter,” Mark Zartler said.
The Zartlers posted the video of Kara’s treatment online in hopes of helping other patients find relief. “So many parents across the world reached out to us and told us, ‘That’s what my son. That’s what my daughter does.’ ‘I’m living in a home, and I’m afraid of my child. I’ve been locking myself in my bathroom, so he won’t beat me up,’” Christy Zartler said.
The feedback wasn’t all positive. “It took about 14, 15 days before CPS knocked on our door,” Christy Zartler explained.
Mark Zartler now has a dot on his record. He’s listed as the abuser on a now-closed CPS case. The Zartlers don’t regret it though.
Their daughter’s story has changed hearts and minds in the public and the government. “I can not fault these parents for doing whatever they can to help their children,” Lucio said. “And there’s no information I’ve received, any medical research, that shows that what they’re doing is dangerous to their children’s health. Zero.”
Lucio said he will push legislation every session until it passes. Lucio re-filed HB 2107 in the current special session. During the seven-hour committee hearing on it during the last session, 59 people spoke in favor of it and just one person against.