Christiana Voorhes is part of Texas Partners in Policy Making, graduating class of 2019. Voorhes has partnered with the Coalition of Texans with Disabilites. She is involved with the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilites and has applied for a governor appointment to the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities.
Voorhes is a wife, and mother of four; two biological children and bonus mom to two children.
“Blended families are amazing and come with extra love and challenges to always keep us growing and discovering new things about ourself. Three of my children excel at all things in life. Our youngest, Zoe Grace, has faced many challenges and has been diagnosed with Autism, TBI, IDD, Seizure Disorder, hearing loss, precocious puberty, genetic abnormalities, migraines, vision impairment, speech and motor delay,” Voorhes said. “Zoe Grace is 9 years old and has more surgeries, hospital stays, doctor appointments and therapy appointments than I can count. She’s the reason I am who I am. I am her biggest fan, supporter, and advocate. She may physically be 9, but developmental she is functioning on a 2 1/2 to 3-year-old level. Her world is amazing and once you enter you are given a nickname and that is the window to her world. She has been on Rx medication most of her life. We have seen success with the CBD and CBD/THC oils. CBD is not enough for her seizure control and behaviors. The addition of THC has reduced her seizures, migraines, anxiety and completely changed our life as a family. She can do things they said she would never be able to do. Two task completion, laundry, ride a bike, write her name, read simple words, and has begun to engage in imaginative play. That is truly a miracle that she is able to pretend play with her toys. Zoe Grace requires 24/7 support and assistance for basic tasks, but her life is getting better because of the medical marijuana. Her future is limitless and her world is rapidly increasing because of the medical marijuana. I never thought I would be the one advocating for Medical Marijuana. I’ve lived in the same town my entire life, the smallest county in Texas, a very conservative town and as a Christian never imagined myself as someone who would be in total support of Medical Marijuana. The beneﬁts have been phenomenal for my child and myself as a member of the disability community too.”
“I believe with my whole heart that medical marijuana needs to be passed and include the entire disability community. It should not be segregated based on diagnosis, but should encompass all who would beneﬁt from the legalization of medical marijuana. Use based on function not the diagnosis. I do not want the medical community to start falsely diagnosing people with Autism or epilepsy and lessen the factual claims of these particular diagnoses. It would only create discord, and not provide factual data for research of the conditions, ” Voorhes said. “I believe the time is now for Texas to pass medical marijuana and create protection for the caregiver, parent and family of those covered under compassionate use. Currently, we fall short in those protections and that must change. I will continue to advocate for people of all abilities and utilize every area of my training to protect our future. Texas can do better for our children, families and those who suffer because they have no access to medical marijuana.”
“With medical marijuana, CBD & THC blends they have a family again,” Voorhes said. “Medical marijuana allows her to be a better student, participate in sports, and 4H. It means less appointments, therapy, interventions, and her brother, Lani, is happier when Zoe Grace is not suffering.”
Medical marijuana improves Zoe Grace’s life by reducing the self injury and behaviors and cuts the amount of black box warning seizure medication, which is the strictest warning of prescription drugs. This also results in a lower cost to Medicaid.
With the help of Chase Bearden, Deputy Executive Director of the The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, they are are working with representatives to pass the H.B. 1365 and H.B. 209,
H.B. 206 relates to authorizing the possession, use, cultivation, distribution, transportation, and delivery of medical cannabis for medical use by qualifying patients with certain debilitating medical conditions and the licensing of dispensing organizations and testing facilities; authorizing fees.
Around 68% of Americans can access medical cannabis, including people in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. These various laws are helping seriously ill individuals across our country by relieving the nausea associated with chemotherapy, thereby increasing appetite, and by easing the pain and burning associated with neuropathic pain (which is notoriously unresponsive to other treatment options). However, medical cannabis is legal for less than 1% of Texans through the Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP).
HB 1365, Representative Eddie Lucio, III’s bill would make TCUP more inclusive and compassionate for Texans. This bill also garnered 78 coauthors during last legislative session after a moving hearing.
The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD) mission is to ensure that persons with disabilities may work, live, learn, play and participate fully in the community of their choice. CTD is the largest and oldest member driven cross-disability advocacy organization in Texas.
CTD’s diverse membership and member organizations support the expansion of the Texas Compassionate Use Program to cover more Texans. Texas’ current policy on medical cannabis and qualifying conditions allow access to safe and legal cannabis to less than 1% of Texans. Many Texans with disabilities who could benefit significantly from safe, legal medical marijuana are denied access under the current program.
Expansion of qualifying conditions and cannabis options:
- Allow Medical professionals closest to their patients and their caregivers to recommend vs. prescribe medical cannabis as a treatment option when appropriate.
- Allow patients and their medical professionals to create personalized treatment plans by incorporating a diversity of cannabis products and delivery methods.
Ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis through regulation:
- State oversight through a robust regulatory framework and enforcement that works closely with Texas patients, families, Medical professional, law enforcement and the cannabis industry.
- Independent Lab testing that ensures safety and quality.
Members of CTD and their families have made it clear of their support for smart public policy changes, that will ensure safe and legal access to medical cannabis for Texans with disabilities.
I want to see an end to prohibition of a natural treatment that gives my daughter a better quality of life,” Voorhes said. “I fight for my treatment for my daughter, but I am not in support of the recreational use of marijuana.”