Meet the Woman Who Authored Texas’ Medical Cannabis Law
(Photo credit: Stephanie Klick/Facebook)
Fiercely conservative Texas state Rep. Stephanie Klick may not fit the traditional mold for a medical cannabis advocate.
But don’t be fooled. The Republican lawmaker and Texas native, who represents constituents in the cities of Haltom City, Richland Hills, North Richland Hills, Watauga and a portion of Fort Worth, has been instrumental in pushing medical marijuana reform forward in this state.
Klick helped spearhead legislative efforts to legalize medical access to cannabidiol (CBD) in Texas, co-authoring, sponsoring and advocating for the passage of the Texas Compassionate Use Act. The measure passed the state legislature in May 2015 and Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law on June 1, legalizing low-THC cannabis oil for patients with intractable epilepsy.
“This bill is a big win for Texas families,” Klick wrote in a news release following the bill’s passage. “Intractable epilepsy is a difficult disease to live with and I am excited that there is another treatment option for those who suffer from it.”
Klick attributes her interest in medical cannabis advocacy to her background as a registered nurse. She has over 30 years experience in nursing and previously served as a nursing supervisor at North Hills Medical Center, formerly known as Greenview Hospital, in North Richland Hills, Texas.
“As a nurse, I have witnessed the devastating effects of seizure disorders, not just on the diagnosed patients, but on their families as well,” Klick wrote in a news release announcing the introduction of the Texas Compassionate Use Act in 2015. “Having researched the studies and talked with epilepsy experts regarding CBD oil and its effect on those with intractable epilepsy, I am convinced that the legislature must act to make CBD oil treatments available for these Texans.”
Intractable epilepsy affects an estimated 149,000 people in Texas, according to Klick’s release. Patients with the debilitating condition can suffer hundreds of severe seizures each week, putting them at increased risk for excessive bodily injury, neuropsychological and mental health impairment, social disability and shortened lifespan.
While standard treatments fall short for those with intractable epilepsy, many have reported dramatic reductions in seizures through the use of CBD oil, a non-psychoactive compound extracted from the cannabis plant.
As the House sponsor of the Texas Compassionate Use Act, Klick persistently educated lawmakers about the differences between CBD and THC, the psychoactive compound most commonly associated with marijuana.
“It [CBD] is not something you can get high on. It has a low risk of abuse,” Klick explained in 2015. “This is not something that can be smoked. It is ingested orally.”
Under the Texas Compassionate Use Act, patients with intractable epilepsy may legally obtain low-THC cannabis oil through state-licensed dispensaries, which are slated to open in 2018. To qualify for CBD oil, patients with intractable epilepsy must be permanent residents of Texas and must obtain a physician’s recommendation with concurrence from a second physician.