Expansion to Texas medical cannabis program put on hold


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Compassionate Use Program, allowing people to make and prescribe medicinal oil made of marijuana, is temporary on hold.

The Department of Public Safety announced new licenses to produce and sell medical cannabis from October 1st to November 1st. A week into that process, the website shut down.

“The Department’s Compassionate Use Program is not accepting applications at this time,” the Texas Department of Public Safety website states.

An interview request to the media department was declined. However, a department spokesperson sent this email in response.

“The department is suspending the current application process for licenses in the Compassionate Use Program (CUP). The department will continue to assess dispensing capacity requirements, along with the need for any additional licenses, as we work through recent legislative changes to the program,” a DPS staffer wrote.

Only three licenses were issued by the state after the 2015 law to Cansortium Texas, Compassionate Cultivation, and Surterra Texas.

Patients on hold

After a construction accident injured his spinal cord, Shawn Meredith lives with spasticity: uncontrollable, intense, muscle spasms.

“Sometimes they’re stronger than my muscles that work so I’ve had them throw me out of the chair,” said Meredith.

He expected to buy medical cannabis through the state’s compassionate use program, which now covers spasticity. Hoping along the way, products would be cheaper with more companies able to provide it.

“The legislature agrees with me. The bills passed through with supermajority in the House, unanimously in the Senate. Now it’s getting held up by administrative snafus,” said Meredith.

The Department of State Health Services still is finalizing rules for which conditions are allowed. A spokeswoman estimates that will be finished December 2nd.

The lawmaker, Texas state Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, who passed the expansion told KXAN media partners at the Texas Tribune that DPS is waiting for those details before continuing.

In September, the Department of State Health Services held a public hearing about which disorders should fall under the program.

“Hang tight for now,” Klick told the Tribune, “This is likely just a temporary delay until we know which of the incurable neurodegenerative conditions are appropriate to be included on the list.”

That is frustrating to medical marijuana advocates like Heather Fazio, from Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy.

“For us, it seems like an irresponsible move on their part to move forward with this application period without having done the due diligence of market analysis before allowing businesses to start applying,” said Fazio.

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