The Zartlers have gone through a veritable pharmacy of prescription drugs, but they say medical marijuana is the only thing that stops Kara from hitting herself. Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 9:51 am CST Mark Zartler gives vaporized cannabis to his daughter Kara at home in Richardson. courtesy Mark Zartler
Mark Zartler measures how well his 17-year-old daughter, Kara, is doing by what he calls a “hit test” — counting the number of times she hits herself on a given day.
Kara, who has severe autism and cerebral palsy, has engaged in self-abusive behavior since she was 6 years old. She smacks the heel of her palm against her ear and punches herself in the face repeatedly. Mark and his wife, Christy, have to restrain her as many as 12 times a day.
The Zartlers have gone through a veritable pharmacy of prescription drugs, but they say medical marijuana is the only thing that stops Kara from hitting herself. Cannabis is her “rescue medicine” — it calms her within minutes.
With cannabis, Kara’s hits have gone from more than 1,000 daily to as few as zero. “Instead of counting good hours, we’ve started counting good days,” Mark said.
But medical marijuana is illegal in Texas, and Mark knows the treatments could land him in jail, or risk his daughter being removed from their Richardson home. In March, Child Protective Services (CPS) opened an investigation after Mark posted a video on Facebook that shows him giving