There has been some attention in 2017 over how Texas could become one of the next states to legalize a somewhat comprehensive medical marijuana program, but most have forgotten that the state is on the verge of launching its low-THC plan for epilepsy patients.
Although the program is expected to do very little to actually help those patients who qualify for participation, a report from the Austin Business Journal points out that the often “bullish” attitude toward marijuana in Lone Star state has progressed to a time when it is finally preparing to launch some of its first privately-owned marijuana operations.
At the beginning of May, the Texas Department of Public Safety approved three companies (Surterra Texas, Cansortium Texas, and Compassionate Cultivation) to “cultivate, extract and dispense” the non-intoxicating compound of the cannabis plant called cannabidiol (CBD), which can no more than 0.5 percent THC, according to the language of the law.
This form of medical marijuana, which does not produce any of the psychoactive effects commonly associated with marijuana, has gained popularity throughout the past several years for its ability to lessen seizure frequency in epilepsy patients. It is a trend that many lawmakers across the nation have bought into as a way to ease their respective state into the concept of legal weed. However, we are learning now that these types of programs typically do not lead to greater reforms. And in a lot of cases, the companies charged with overseeing “the program” experience financial hardships because there simply are not enough patients to offset the high costs of manufacturing cannabis extracts.
Nevertheless, the three companies challenged with producing cannabis oil for Texas, two of which come from Florida’s low-THC program, would likely have first dibs on a license if state lawmakers were to pass legislation for a more substantial medical marijuana program. Truth be told, this is likely the only reason any of these companies put their name in the hat in the first place – just getting a foot in the door for when the real industry hits.
From the way it looks, they’ll have plenty of time to build a business plan.
Although the Compassionate Use Act, which was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbot in 2015, was predicted to service several thousand patients once it was finally implemented, it is doubtful that any of the approved companies will see a single person when it comes time to open shop.
As it stands, the language of the CBD law forces doctors to “prescribe” medical marijuana rather than offer patients a “recommendation.” Since federal law prohibits physicians from prescribing a Schedule I controlled substance, most doctors (all of them, really) will not touch this program with a 10-foot pole. State marijuana advocates felt confident they could get the language amended in the 2017 legislative session, but so far nothing has changed.