Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson sent out a statement this week saying cannabis oil, CBD oil, is currently only legal for epilepsy patients in Texas prescribed by a doctor registered through the Compassionate Use Act.
The Compassionate Use Act was enacted by the Texas Legislature in 2015, which required the Department of Public Safety create a secure registry of physicians who treat epilepsy for the purpose of prescribing low-THC cannabis to patients who have been diagnosed with intractable epilepsy, according to the DPS website.
A Weatherford neurologist, Dr. Bsihnu Sapkota, is listed in the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas, but according to his office is not prescribing CBD oil.
“They said he has not prescribed nor does he plan to prescribe it,” according to Sapkota's practice manager.
Sapkota and Dr. M. Scott Perry — medical director of neurology at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth — are two of 52 registered doctors in the state as of this week.
According to an article by The Texas Tribune, Perry signed up for the registry in January 2018 and said he feels that a lot of doctors still aren’t comfortable prescribing cannabis oil to their patients.
“I don’t think anyone knows how to prescribe it, to be honest, because it’s still an evolving science to figure out what the doses are, what the side effects are and how efficacious the medicine is,” Perry told The Texas Tribune. “When we’re talking about the [cannabis] oil that’s going to be produced by the dispensaries, they’re all slightly different.”
State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, said it’s important for people to understand that CBD oil has no intoxicating elements to it, but it is still currently against the law.
“I have not had any positions from medical groups tell me that they need it. I have citizens who tell me that it has great benefits for them and I’m confident that our public health committee will be looking at it this session,” King said. “I’m eager to see the full discussion of it, but right now I just don’t have all the facts.”
King said he wants to make one thing clear — he will never support legalizing marijuana.
“That’s just off the table. I do have an open mind about medical aspects, such as CBD oil, when it’s requested, managed and administered by medical professionals,” King said. “But I am completely and will always be opposed to legalizing marijuana.”
Wilson said the Texas Commissioner of Health Dr. John Hellerstedt added “marijuana extract” to Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substance Act in May 2017.
“This criminalized any possession of an ‘extract’ from a plant of the genus cannabis, and is the basis for the current illegal status of non-prescribed CBD oil,” Wilson said. “The U.S. Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill reclassifying industrial hemp, which contains less than 0.3 percent concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as ‘THC.’ Texas has not legalized hemp.”
Wilson said in order to legalize the possession and sale of the products in Texas, Commissioner of Health Dr. John Hellerstedt must remove the extract from the controlled substance schedule.
“The Texas Legislature additionally is considering bills this session to legalize industrial hemp production and related products in our state,” Wilson said. “The criminal district attorney does not have the authority to change the law. We encourage those with strong opinions about CBD oil to contact Commissioner Hellerstedt’s office or your local legislators to inform them of your views.”
Wilson said her office filed almost 50,000 criminal cases last year.
“We have not spent and do not expect to spend significant resources on cases involving CBD oil,” Wilson said.