Starting Sept. 1, the Texas Compassionate Use Act will allow a small group of epilepsy patients to buy and use CBD, a specific kind of cannabis oil. One North Texas couple hopes one day they will get the Legislature to expand the list of eligible patients to include those like their daughter.
"It's hard having an autistic child," said Christy Zartler, of Richardson.
The Zartlers daughter, Kara, regularly has violent fits.
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"She closed-fisted punches her cheeks and her ears, drawing blood," Mark Zartler explained.
"It's painful," his wife added. "I feel like I'm in hell on Earth."
The Zartlers said they tried everything that medicine had to offer, then a neighbor suggested they try cannabis. First, the couple had to get over the stigma.
"Our background is pretty much 'the Cleavers,'" Mark Zartler joked. "This is safer than allowing her to hit herself, and she has a better day. It always works."
The Zartlers started giving their daughter cannabis treatments to calm her fits in 2013. This year, they came out of the shadows, posting videos online to show the before-and-after effects.
"We don't need to convince our neighbors," Mark Zartler said. "We need to convince our elected leaders."
The legislative special session ended this year without the change the Zartlers wanted, but they vow to keep fighting to decriminalize what they're doing for their daughter.
Both parents said their daughter was on about a dozen prescription medications before they starting using cannabis. Now, she takes two prescription medications and two over-the-counter medications.
"Her pharmacy medications are more harmful than marijuana," Christy Zartler said. "I want to help people. I want parents of children like her to know there's a better life."