Newly legal drug gives hope to local family

Posted at 5:34 PM, Jun 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-08 11:03:49-04

After 38 years of waiting, a former Waco man may finally be able to get relief from a life long battle with epilepsy, thanks to a newly signed bill legalizing cannabis oil, CBD.

Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill June 1, and said he signed the bill to "provide healing and hope for children afflicted by unrelenting seizures caused by epilepsy." The bill, formerly called Senate Bill 339, allows the sale of cannabis oil exclusively to those suffering from epilepsy. According to Reynolds, nearly 150,000 people affected by the disease in Texas could be helped by CBD.

"He's had everything that can be done," said Elaine Reynolds, whose son has lived with the neurological disease for his entire life."...this was our last hope."

Her son, David Rhodes, was diagnosed at age three. His step-father, Mark Reynolds, estimated Rhodes suffers from a dozen seizures each night and has tried as many as 30 different medications. Currently he's taking four different kinds, totally 22 pills a day. Rhodes also had three brain surgeries, the first when he was 10, and then two in his 20's. None of the surgeries had lasting cures and his family attributes them to his speech impediment and learning disability.

"It's frustrating, you know?" Rhodes said. "You run out of hope after running through so many things that are possible."

Texas joins 13 other states that have legalized CBD, which does not get users high. According to the law, the oil can not exceed the 20:1 ration of CBD to THC. THC is the active chemical that causes a high from smoking Marijuana. Abbott also said the bill was not a step toward legalizing Marijuana in Texas.

Not everyone is thrilled with the law. Advocates for PTSD and Cancer organizations said Monday they were slighted by their exclusion from the law. According to Reynolds, Some medical marijuana advocates say the bill didn't go far enough in legalizing cannabinoid medications. During debates, law enforcement and poison control advocates argued the potential for overdose among non-users was too dangerous to allow prescriptions to be filled.

The Department of Public Safety is in charge of setting up three dispensaries around the state. The DPS has until September 2017 to make arrangements for those businesses, according to the law.