AUSTIN (KXAN) — September 11, 2001 is a day Shawn Collins will never forget.
“I saw the second tower collapse and it was like a movie,” he said. “I was so freaked out, people were collapsing on the street, screaming and running into each other.”
More than two decades later, living in Austin, Collins was still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Flashbacks from the tragic day prevented him from sleeping while causing severe emotional distress.
“I knew it was unhealthy to be drinking alcohol like a fish,” he said. “I thought at some point these thoughts were going to calm down in my head and everything was going to get back to normal.”
Back in 2021, the Texas Compassionate Use Program expanded to include those with PTSD.
With this in mind, Collins’ therapist recommended medical cannabis as a treatment.
“I felt so at peace that night and slept well,” he said. “Usually I’d have very disrupted sleep or I couldn’t even fall asleep at all.”
Collins is only small sample of success, as there’s only three state-licensed medical cannabis companies in Texas.
Yet, that number could soon grow.
The Texas Department of Public Safety told KXAN that 132 groups applied to open dispensaries.
However, the state agency hasn’t confirmed when it will decide on those licenses.
Texas Original CEO Nico Richardson says there are more than 150,000 people in the Austin area who are eligible for medical cannabis prescriptions under state law, but aren’t currently receiving those prescriptions.
“The biggest barrier is knowledge of the system and understanding that we have a medical cannabis program here in Texas,” he said.
Texas Original recently opened up a new location in North Austin, intended to increase awareness and expand access for patients.
This comes on the heels of the company’s newly-opened locations in The Woodlands, Plano and Hurst.
“We’re opening more locations closer to patients,” Richardson said. “That way, they don’t have to drive or wait a long time for delivery.”
With a new outlook on life thanks to his edible gummies from Texas Original, Collins described the 22nd anniversary of the September 11th attacks as the easiest he’s ever experienced.
“To me it was a miracle drug, I was really struggling for going on 20 years,” he concluded. “It helped me so much, it changed everything for me.”
This spring, a bill aimed at expanding access to medical marijuana for those suffering from chronic pain was passed by a vote of 127-19 in the Texas House of Representatives.
However, House Bill 1805 died in the Senate without a vote, as Republicans focused on other priorities and campaign promises.