Texas bill could expand state's medical marijuana program

Families across Texas are hoping to get a bill moving forward that would expand the state’s medical marijuana program. 

Former Dallas Cowboy Jay Novacek and his wife, Amy Novacek, have been advocating for the bill on behalf of their son who they say can better manage his seizures thanks to medical marijuana. 

House Bill 1535 creates a medical cannabis research program and raises the cap on THC from 0.5% to 5%.

But the family says it’s not about increasing the amount of drugs but making improvements to the current medical marijuana program and helping some patients manage side effects. 

"This is not about people getting high," Amy said. "This is not about anything but the medicinal use of it prescribed by a doctor."

Amy and Jay’s son, Blake, has been dealing with a multitude of health issues, including seizures and migraines from a traumatic head injury in 2015. The family says Blake has up to 15 seizures a day. 

"He still struggles with chronic migraines and body pain," Amy said. "When he seizes and falls, he’s had some injuries. He’s broken his nose. He’s had some shoulder and other bodily injuries."

After trying different medications. the family found medicinal marijuana helped Blake significantly reduce his seizures and manage his pain. 

"We were not in support of it, really," Amy admitted. "But then the more we saw our kid coming back to us and the normalcy it gave him, we absolutely supported it and still do to this day."

According to the bill's authors, about 5,000 patients currently benefit from the state’s compassionate use program with medicine that is oil-based.

But advocates say current restrictions cause side effects for some patients because of the amount they need to ingest. 

Families like the Novaceks want to raise the cap on THC from .5% to 5% so less oil becomes more effective.  

"The amount [of medicine] he’s going to be taking a day is exactly the same. It’s just the oil," Jay explained. "The carrier oil he has to drink would be dramatically reduced."

The bill already passed the Texas House with bipartisan support. But so far, it has not moved in the Senate. 

The family is urging others to contact their state senators and the lieutenant governor to take action.

"We’re not going to load him up on THC," Jay said. "We’re giving him the same amount."

Advocates say if there is no movement on the bill within the next few days, it will likely not pass this session.