Many Texans hope the state legislature will get serious about legalizing a comprehensive medical marijuana program during the 2017 session, but most have forgotten that the state is close to rolling out a scheme to distribute low-THC cannabis oil for epilepsy patients.
A recent report from the Austin Business Journal suggests that the “bullish” attitude toward legal marijuana in the Lone Star State could be on the verge of falling by the wayside, as many state lawmakers and other naysayers of the cannabis legalization movement prepare to witness the unveiling of the state’s first privately-owned marijuana businesses.
As of the first of May, the Texas Department of Public Safety has selected three companies (Surterra Texas, Cansortium Texas and Compassionate Cultivation) to “cultivate, extract and dispense” a non-intoxicating form of cannabis known as cannabidiol (CBD oil), which can have no more than 0.5 percent THC, according to rules of the Compassionate Use Act.
Cannabidiol, which does not have the capacity to get the user stoned, has been highly publicized for its ability to help epilepsy patients have fewer seizures. It has become a part of a trendy little movement that many legislators have subscribed to as a way to become a salvation’s wing for people suffering with this debilitating condition.
Unfortunately, these types of laws actually do very little to help the community, as they leave tens of thousands of patients out in the cold.
Nevertheless, advocates often praise them because they feel that any step is a step in the right direction. But as we have seen, throughout the past several years, these types of programs are not exactly a bridge to more comprehensive reforms.
Meanwhile, the companies hired to run low-THC programs often find themselves in a desperate state of financial hardship because there simply are not enough participants to offset the high costs associated with the manufacturing of cannabis products.
But in Texas, the situation is bound to be far worse than other jurisdictions with similar programs.
Although the Compassionate Use Act, which was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott in 2015, was supposed to service thousands of patients once it was launched, it is doubtful that any of the cannabis companies will see a single person when it comes time to open the doors.
That’s because the language of the law forces doctors to “prescribe” medical marijuana rather than provide patients with a “recommendation.”
Since the DEA’s Controlled Substances Act prohibits physicians from prescribing Schedule I drugs, there will not be a single doctor willing to make the CBD program part of his or her practice.
Marijuana advocates said last year that they were confident they could get the law amended during the 2017 legislative session, but, so far, nothing appears to have changed.
Looks like Texas is on its way to becoming the first state in the nation to sell cannabis oil to crickets.