The first state-licensed cannabis dispensary for patients with intractable epilepsy is now open in Manchaca and so far 18 neurologist doctors are on the Compassionate Registry – including Dr. Gina Jetter.
Dr. Jetter is a member of Northeast Texas Neurologists Association located in Tyler.
Jetter says she signed up on the DPS website and showed proof that she met the qualifications. For her, it was an easy decision.
“As an epileptologist, I have thousands of patients and 30 percent of them have epilepsy that we cannot control with medications,” Jetter says.
She says cannabis is another tool that could help her patients control seizures. So why are there so few doctors signed up?
“One of the reasons is the qualifications. There aren’t as many that have those strict qualifications, compared to general neurologists,” she says. “And the other is, because it’s the CBD oil and it’s from marijuana, which is a schedule I substance, and so there’s not a lot of good evidence, good data out there telling us is marijuana good or not. Until recently.”
Now, she says, a couple of studies have emerged showing that a derivative of CBD has been successful treating some epilepsy patients. Still, some doctors may not sign up for the registry because of the stigma surrounding marijuana.
“For me, it doesn’t really matter,” she says. “I’ve got hundreds of patients that continue to have seizures and if there is something that potentially could help them, I am going to be very interested in it and learn about it.”
She says the CBD oil available in Texas is too low in THC to produce a “high.”
“It’s so low in what they are permitting patients in Texas to get that you’re not going to have any of those side effects and you’re just going to have the benefits of the CBD, which helps to decrease seizures in some patients,” Jetter says.
She is concerned about a different problem, though, since access to the medication will be in high demand.
“I think that’s probably more of an issue,” she says, “because there’s not that many of us and there’s a lot of smaller communities around. It’s hard to get to the doctor, especially with epilepsy patients. You can’t drive.”
Written by Angela Bonilla