A Texas company has been granted a license to grow, process, and distribute medical marijuana to patients.
Texas last week issued its first medical marijuana license, more than two years after lawmakers passed the Compassionate Use Act. Consortium Texas, which is part of Florida-based Consortium Holdings, received a license to grow, process and sell medical marijuana for patients with a rare form of epilepsy under the state’s restrictive low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) law. Two more companies are expected to be awarded licenses soon.
The Texas Compassionate Use Act, signed into law in 2015 by Gov. Greg Abbott, permits those diagnosed with intractable epilepsy to purchase and use cannabis oil with up to 0.5 percent THC and 10 percent cannabidiol (CBD) after obtaining a prescription and first trying two conventional drug treatments that proved ineffective.
Consortium Texas, which paid approximately $490,000 for their license, was selected from 43 applicants. They will soon grow and process cannabis on a 10-acre parcel of land in Schulenburg. They will be required to pay nearly $320,000 in two years to renew the license.
“We expect to have the medicine by the end of the year, I hope by December,” Jose Hidalgo, chief executive officer of Consortium Holdings, told the Star-Telegram. “Our focus is to give access to patients. With a population of 27 million plus in Texas, it is so important for us to be there and provide [medical cannabis] for patients.”
The state Department of Public Safety is currently reviewing applications from Compassionate Cultivation and Surterra Texas, who have been conditionally approved.
“It is safe to say that it is a challenging market,” Morris Denton, chief executive of Compassionate Cultivation, told the Associated Press.
The effort to pass the legislation two years ago was led by state Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, a nurse who helped write the bill. She hopes legal access to the cannabis oil will benefit nearly 150,000 Texans estimated to have intractable epilepsy. The program became effective September 1.
“A lot of folks think this could happen overnight,” said Klick. “But this is a very complex industry. These children need a consistent quality of meds. That’s why this has taken so long. It’s incredibly complex. I’m hoping that some of these folks will have a merry Christmas because this product will be available in Texas.”
Texas’s medical cannabis law has been criticized by advocates for being too restrictive. The program permits low-THC cannabis oil only for severe epilepsy disorders, excluding patients diagnosed with conditions like cancer, chronic pain, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally, CBD-based cannabis products are already available to all customers in Texas and throughout the U.S. CBD oil derived from imported hemp, rather than marijuana, contains less than 0.3 percent THC by weight and is legal to purchase and ship to all 50 states and 40 countries without a prescription or state authorization.
According to industry analysts, Texas’s medical marijuana market could rival that of California’s if the state were to relax restrictions and make the substance more widely available. Medical cannabis is currently legal in 29 U.S. states and Washington D.C.