15 December 2016

Here’s the latest news from Texas Cannabis Report and it makes expensive reading


The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) met today to consider changes to Texas’s medical marijuana CBD oil program, and advocates saw a small amount of success.

Original rules adopted in December of 2015 were seen as agreeable in moving towards the implementation of the Compassionate Use Act. However at a later date, drastic changes were proposed which had many saying that the program could not survive under.

Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) originally released a statement about the proposed rule changes, stating “While many of the changes are sensible and simply clarify policy, several are a radical and harmful departure from the department’s earlier approach. The changes you propose will ensure the Compassionate Use Act cannot function. We strongly urge the department to consider the patients for whom this important law was intended to help.”

Those changes included raising the initial licensing fee from $6,000 to $1.3 million, the licensing renew fee from $6,000 to $975,000, and an employee registration fee from $150 to $5,000.

After today’s changes, those fees are now set at $488,000 for initial licensing, $318,000 for renewals, and $500 for employee registrations.

Other proposed changes included requiring business to disclose where they obtained their seeds, which from a federal level could put many people at risk of prosecution. The newly adopted rule will require licensees to sign a form that acknowledges federal and state laws about marijuana.

There was also the issue of requiring a state trooper at every location, however that will no longer be the case. Instead, businesses will be inspected several times a week. Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, a coalition of groups formed under MPP, describes this as “overkill, but better than the alternative.”

Commenting on the exorbitant fees for licenses, Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy released a statement saying “DPS is still committed to only issuing three licenses. This is a disservice and probably the primary reason that the fees are still so high.”

They added, “While the fees have been dropped significantly, they are still unreasonable. In our official comments to DPS, you’ll find a chart that outlines the fees in other states. As you’ll see, our fees are incredibly high, especially for a state that is only servicing patients with one medical condition and with only low-THC cannabis.”

The organization concluded that the amended rules were “better, but still unreasonable.”

The Compassionate Use Act, which was passed during the 2015 Texas legislative session, could be expanded during the 2017 session.

Texas State Senator Jose Menendez has filed SB 269 for the 2017 state legislative session, which would expand that program to include whole plant marijuana, and it would allow patients with an array of debilitating conditions to qualify. If passed, Texas would join 28 other states and Washington, D.C. in having a full medical cannabis program.

A recent Texas Tegna Poll showed that 71 percent of Texas voters would support expanding the list of medical-marijuana qualifying conditions under the program. Additionally, delegates to the Republican Party of Texas State Convention voted this year to include the expansion of the Compassionate Use Program in their platform.

The plank, supported by 78 percent of GOP delegates, states “We call upon the Texas Legislature to improve the 2015 Compassionate Use Act to allow doctors to determine the appropriate use of cannabis to prescribed patients.”