Medical Marijuana

History of the Law in Texas:

Passed into law in June 2015, the Texas Compassionate Use act allowed for the use of low-THC medical cannabis to be used as a practical treatment for intractable epilepsy.  In June 2019, based on the success of the intractable epilepsy program, the Texas Compassionate Use Program (CUP) was expanded, allowing approved and registered Texas physicians to prescribe medical cannabis to qualified patients as a potential treatment for a broader set of conditions.

For qualifying patients, the passage and expansion of the Texas CUP means that, under the guidance and care of a physician, they now have access to this new treatment option for conditions that include spasticity, autism, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, chronic encephalopathy, and many other incurable neurodegenerative disorders.

Mechanism of Action:

In the 1990s, scientists discovered what is now referred to as the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system is comprised of endogenous cannabinoids (a diverse group of naturally produced chemical compounds) and cannabinoid receptors (binding sites on the surface of many types of cells), and is found in every animal.

Cannabinoid receptors can be found in the hippocampus, cerebral cortex, cerebellum, hypothalamus, amygdala, and other areas of the body. These receptors can accept or bind with certain cannabinoids. When a cannabinoid binds to a cannabinoid receptor in the body, it triggers one or more events which change the cell’s activity or gene regulation, or it changes the signals that the cell sends to other cells. The primary cannabinoid receptors can bind with (or be unlocked by) three types of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids which are produced naturally in the body, phytocannabinoids which are produced naturally in the cannabis plant, and synthetic cannabinoids, which are artificially manufactured in a laboratory.

Researchers have discovered that the phytocannabinoids, which include THC and cannabidiol (CBD) found in the cannabis plant can bind with cannabinoid receptors in the body and provide a variety of therapeutic benefits to patients suffering from a long list of medical conditions. For example, medical marijuana can help:

  • Pain
  • Appetite
  • Sleep
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Cognitive function
  • Immune function
  • Neurodegenerative disease

Furthermore, the cannabis plant includes chemical compounds called terpenes and flavonoids that scientists believe increase the therapeutic effect of medical marijuana. More research is needed to get a full understanding of how medical marijuana works and how the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in the cannabis plant work together in synergy to deliver documented therapeutic effects, but we do have enough evidence for medical professionals to confidently recommend medical marijuana to their patients in many circumstances.

When is medical marijuana appropriate?

Studies report that medical cannabis has possible benefits for several conditions. State laws vary in which conditions qualify people for treatment with medical marijuana. For the state of Texas, refer to the Compassionate Use Program for details, the link is below.

Depending on the state, you may qualify for treatment with medical marijuana if you meet certain requirements and have a qualifying condition, such as:

  • Chronic and Severe Pain
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis and muscle spasms
  • Severe nausea
Is medical marijuana safe?

Further study is needed to answer this question, but possible side effects of medical marijuana may include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired concentration and memory
  • Slower reaction times
  • Negative drug-to-drug interactions
  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Increased appetite
  • Potential for addiction
  • Cyclic vomiting syndrome
  • Hallucinations or mental illness
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Obtaining a prescription for medical marijuana:

Austin Pain Wellness is happy to announce that Dr. Wills is now registered with the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) as a prescriber of low-THC cannabis. Medical cannabis comes in a variety of forms including oil for vaporizing, lozenges, topical applications, and oral tinctures.  In Texas, the THC content of prescribed cannabis must be 0.5% THC or less by weight, whereas CBD formulations must contain less than 0.3% THC.  For more information about qualifying for the program, please call the office for information or to schedule an initial evaluation with Dr. Wills.  Please also reference the materials attached below.

https://www.dps.texas.gov/section/compassionate-use-program/laws-regulations

Medical Marijuana and Cannabis Dispensary in Texas (texasoriginal.com)

Prescribing medical cannabis: ethical considerations for primary care providers (bmj.com)