Teen with Epilepsy Denied Medical Marijuana Treatment

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MCALLEN – Medical marijuana is now available in Texas, but not for all patients including many with epilepsy.

A local mother said she will continue to fight for medical cannabis legalization because it all comes down to saving her son’s life.

“It’s not easy, but I just ask God every day to give me the strength to just get up and do what I have to do to give him the best life possible,” Mayra Rivera said.

Her son, Rosendo Robles, took a turn at just four months old.

“My son is still undiagnosed. He has had every test underneath the sun done and there is still no diagnosis,” she explained.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS met with the mother last year. She was looking forward to the implementation of the Compassionate Use Act, Senate Bill 3-39. It allows some physicians to prescribe low THC-Cannabis,  a low prescription of the chemical known for causing a high. It's something some medical professionals say can reduce seizure activity.

SB 3-39 went into effect this past September.

Rivera soon learned her son, who is now 13 years old, still has obstacles.

“We don’t qualify because my son does not have intractable seizures,” she said.

These types of seizures cannot be controlled with drugs.

“It just takes one (seizure) and you can pass away. So when my son has a seizure, yes I panic, yes I am scared because I don’t know in that moment that his heart is going to stop and he might potentially pass away because that is the reality that we are facing,” Rivera explained.

SUDEP, or Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, is a real concern for any person suffering seizures. The Epilepsy Foundation says SUDEP causes a person’s body to inexplicably shut down in the time after a seizure and they said it’s not known yet what exactly causes it.

We spoke with staff for Representative Eddie Lucio out of Cameron County, known as an outspoken advocate of medical marijuana. Lucio told us in spite of the setbacks of two House Bills that didn’t make it through last year, he has full intentions to refile a new medical marijuana bill.

We’re also told Lucio is talking to Gov. Greg Abbott, who spoke with us about his concerns on legalization last year.

"One of the beauties of the way the United States works is that there are different states that have different programs. And we have the opportunity here in Texas to observe what is going on in Colorado and I've got to tell you, there are some potential upsides but there have also been demonstrated, some potential downsides to the marijuana,” Abbott said.

Rivera explained her son continues to experience six to eight seizures a month while medicated.

“I’m not going to give up. I am going to keep fighting for my son until there is a change here in Texas. I’m not going to be quiet,” she said.

For Rivera, legalization medicinal cannabis for all epilepsy patients is a matter of life and death.

The Epilepsy Foundation states more than one in 1,000 adults die from SUDEP. The risks are lower for children at one in every 4,500.

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