Two-year-old Oscar Wilkens was diagnosed with epilepsy at 5 months old. Since then, his mother, Christy Wilkens, has been looking for treatment to help control his seizures. She’s hopeful medical marijuana is the answer.
Oscar is the youngest patient at Compassionate Cultivation, one of three cannabis companies in Texas to be granted a medical marijuana license by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Austin-area dispensary sells one product: cannabidiol, or CBD oil, exclusively for epileptic patients who meet strict state requirements, like getting approval from two physicians registered under the state’s Compassionate Use Registry of Texas. So far, only 16 physicians are registered.
"I'm saddened a little bit that Texas is so far behind the curve," Wilkens tells Dallas News. "It's taken this long for this day to come for Oscar and for everyone else. I know there are still a lot of people who aren't going to be able to get this medicine who really need it."
CBD, which was legally approved in Texas in 2015, is not covered by insurance. At Compassionate Cultivation, a 7.5-milliliter bottle costs $105 while a 15-milliliter bottle costs $200. Each child-resistant bottle contains cannabis oil combined with a small portion of coconut oil, and some mask the taste with peppermint or cherry flavoring.
For parents like Wilken, CBD is a welcome alternative to existing medications, which come with side effects ranging from nausea to a loss of muscle tone. Still, the American Academy of Pediatrics is not yet ready to get on board with medical marijuana for kids—but it does recognize situations in which it’s the only effective treatment.
“Given the data supporting the negative health and brain development effects of marijuana in children and adolescents, ages 0 through 21 years, the AAP is opposed to marijuana use in this population,” a policy statement reads. “The AAP opposes ‘medical marijuana’ outside the regulatory process of the US Food and Drug Administration. Notwithstanding this opposition to use, the AAP recognizes that marijuana may currently be an option for cannabinoid administration for children with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions and for whom current therapies are inadequate.”