Texas cannabis businesses are slated to begin selling low THC marijuana products within the next few weeks, but many remain critical of the state’s medical marijuana program.
Knox Medical, Compassionate Cultivation, and Surterra Texas were the only cannabis businesses to receive licenses to operate in the state on Sep. 1 under the state’s Compassionate Use Act, signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Cannabis in Texas
Championed by conservative Republican Rep. Stephanie Klick, the medical marijuana program allows for CBD products and products with less than .5 percent THC content. The three companies have been awarded a license is under this act will be responsible for cultivation, processing and dispensing to patients who qualify for the medical marijuana program under Texas law.
The first medical marijuana dispensary is scheduled to open in Austin Texas on February 8.
Compassionate Cultivation will open its doors to medically qualified patients and their caregivers. For the first time, Texans, registered with the state, will be allowed to purchase their low-THC cannabis products from a storefront.
Those patients outside of Austin will receive their medical marijuana through delivery services.
Limited Patient Participation
In spite of the first dispensary is opening next month, Texas’ Compassionate Use Act has experienced its fair share of criticism because it only covers patients suffering from a severe form of intractable epilepsy. Other states offer more robust medical marijuana programs which include qualifying illnesses like cancer, PTSD, and HIV/ AIDS as well as other forms of epilepsy.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation Texas, the current law only covers about one-third of the total number epilepsy patients in Texas-leaving over 225,000 without medical marijuana treatment as an option.
Organizations like the ACLU Texas, Drug Policy Alliance and Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition formed the Coalition Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. The Coalition is working to amend the Compassionate Use Act so that it is more inclusive of seriously and terminally ill Texans as well as decriminalizing possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.
Families and individuals with debilitating illnesses are leaving the state to receive the treatment they so desperately need while advocates in the state work to expand the program.
Due to its proximity to the state and liberal marijuana laws, Colorado has become a place of refuge for Texans seeking medical marijuana.
One of the most well-known Texans to leave for Colorado to receive the appropriate medical marijuana treatment is Alexis Bortell. The 12-year-old girl is part of a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Drug Enforcement Agency regarding the federal legalization of medical marijuana.
Bortell has a seizure disorder which caused several epilepsy episodes per day. After trying multiple medications, her parents were faced with having Alexis undergo brain surgery to treat her seizures. The family researched other options for care, and medical marijuana appeared to be the most promising.
More than three years ago they left Texas for Colorado where she could receive the proper treatment.
Since moving to a medical marijuana friendly state Alexis has been seizure free.
Hope for Texas
According to Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, 83 percent of Texans support medical marijuana, and 53 percent support broader cannabis legalization.