Medical Cannabis in Texas : Start Growing Soon
The Lone Star State is notorious for it’s anti-marijuana stance on legalization, with Texas Governor Greg Abbott infamously stating that marijuana won’t be legalized in any form as long as he’s holding the gubernatorial office. Although, Abbott had a very slight change of heart two years ago, when the Texas Compassionate Use Act passed on June, 1 2015. This legislation, led by state Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, “allows regulated businesses known as “dispensing organizations” to cultivate, process, and distribute low-THC cannabis to certain patients” (1) and provided Texans with completely legal access to marijuana containing not more than .5% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). For reference, recreational strains considered strong, with high amounts of THC have approximately 24 percent on average, a full 48 times the amount allowed in marijuana that will be grown in Texas.
While other states have medical marijuana programs that could potentially help with a range of physical and medical conditions, the only condition that this low-THC cannabis is allowed to treat via prescription is intractable epilepsy and the patient must be a permanent resident of Texas. A certainly restrictive law nonetheless, it’s to this day the closest legislation that Texas has passed in terms of legalization of cannabis. According to the legislation, “the state has until September 2017 to issue at least three licenses to businesses that wish to operate. (1)”, meaning that cannabis for medical purposes will be growing completely legally in the state of Texas.
Given the restrictive nature of the bill, patients are only eligible for the low-grade medical cannabis if at least two other methods of treating intractable epilepsy were proven to be ineffective. And unlike in other states that have a medical program, Texans who both suffer from intractable epilepsy and are eligible for this low-THC marijuana may not grow marijuana plants in their homes due to only state-approved facilities being able to grow marijuana. And just like in states with medical programs, patients are exempt from the laws associated with marijuana possession in Texas.
CBD oil, the active component of the cannabis grown in Texas, sells for about $45 for a vape cartridge containing 300-milligram and $90 for a 600-milligram cartridge. However, due to federal regulations, these costs aren’t covered by insurance yet (3).
In order to receive a license to grow marijuana, a potentially eligible growing facility must submit $6,000 and the two-year license costs another $6,000. In terms of regulations accompanying this legislation, a facility “will be required to have minimum security measures in place, maintain records and operational standards, and be subject to periodic inspections by the Texas Department of Public Health (1)” and that the facilities must use a tracking system for all marijuana grown on premises.
As of this September, medical marijuana will technically be growing on Texan soil in full accordance of the laws of The Lone Star State. Although very weak in THC in terms of what could easily be found in most dispensaries, the marijuana grown in Texas is required to have at least 10 percent cannabidiol, meaning that patients would ideally receive the medical benefits of marijuana without receiving the strong high sometimes accompanied by the consumption of marijuana.
Up to this point, only one single business has received the license to grow low-THC cannabis in Texas thus far. Florida-based Cansortium Holdings, the first company to receive this license “utilizes a unique combination of capital and expertise in making strategic investments to help launch mature and professional cannabis markets. (2)” according to their LinkedIn page. Cansortium Texas, the specific branch of the company to be growing the marijuana, has their facility located in Schulenberg, Texas.
In this small town east of metropolitan San Antonio and 230 miles south of the DFW Metroplex with a population of 2,699 (4), the first legal growth of marijuana will begin. So far, Cansortium is the only company to hold this very license in Texas, meaning that they essentially hold a monopoly on cannabis in Texas until competitors apply for the license. However, that monopoly might be short lived, as more than 40 companies have applied for that very same license, with two more expected to be granted, that authorizes the legal growth of cannabis in a state so longly associated with the anti-marijuana movement.
Yes, this bill is very restrictive and specific in terms of who can and cannot have legal access to a low-THC form of cannabis. However, there’s an estimated 150,000 Texans suffering from intractable epilepsy, some of whom are children. Hypothetically speaking, if this program were to be wildly successful in the same sense that other states’ medical marijuana programs have, this could be huge for Texans suffering from the many other countless conditions that cannabis could assist with alleviating the symptoms of.
If there’s one thing that’s true about marijuana legalization is that it moves at a snail’s pace. Some states, particularly those across the southern United States, have been known to be very anti-marijuana. With that being said, no one is expecting complete legalization in Texas to happen tomorrow. But, through small and hopefully successful steps such as The Texas Compassionate Use Act, marijuana will be seen as a more acceptable medication for a myriad of conditions instead of a laundry list of other medicines and medical marijuana could be becoming more closer in the horizon of full legalization of cannabis.
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