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Texas Accepting Applications for Additional Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

Texas has opened applications for medical cannabis dispensaries licensed in Texas, according to a Monday announcement by the state agency.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, it now accepts applications for its Compassionate Use program (CUP), established in 2015 by the law legalizing medical marijuana treatment. 

Department officials stated that applications will be closed on April 28, but that those who applied previously may apply again. 

“An announcement detailing the process for application acceptance and the subsequent approval process to issue additional licenses will be made at a later date. The department will issue only the number of licenses necessary to ensure reasonable statewide access to, and the availability of, low-THC cannabis for patients registered in the compassionate-use registry,” the Department of Public Safety said in the announcement on Monday.

Texas has legal barriers that have prevented the Texas medical marijuana program from obtaining additional licenses. 

The following is an extract from the Dallas Morning News, only “three dispensaries have been licensed in Texas in the past three years.”

The law that was passed in 2015, the newspaper said, “was highly restrictive in the conditions it covered and how much THC, the element that gives marijuana users a high, was allowed.”

“The Legislature expanded the list of conditions that could be treated under the Compassionate Use Program a few years later. But even then, some advocates believe the program is too selective of the conditions that are allowed and are hoping the Legislature will pass expansion legislation this year,” the Dallas Morning News reported.

“The three dispensaries now open are all in central Texas, with two in Austin and one in Schulenberg, about 100 miles west of San Antonio. With only three dispensaries that can provide cannabidiol that is low in THC, some advocates are frustrated that there is not enough supply to meet demand,” the Morning News continued.

Texas governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law in 2021. Greg Abbott signed a law that makes patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and any other types of cancer, eligible for the Compassionate Us Program. He also increased the THC limit by.5 to 1% dry weight.

Advocates were critical of how restrictive the bill is. An earlier version, for instance, would have allowed THC to be increased up to five percent. 

Charles Schwertner from Republican State introduced an alternative measure which capped this limit at one percentage point.

““As a pharmacist and as a physician, I feel strongly that our limited medical program, with appropriate rules and oversight, is the right path for patients in Texas seeking symptom relief,” Schwertner said at the time. “I believe the evidence is starting to show that. I believe there needs to be further work, but certainly, the testimony is very strong by patients who are suffering from some of these conditions.”

The Lone Star State still prohibits recreational marijuana use, but there are signs that Texans might be open to legalization.

According to a poll, 55% of Texas’ registered voters support legalizing cannabis for adult use. 35% were against.

Abbott is however not onboard with legalization.

A Republican who won re-election last year, Abbott “has previously expressed interest in reducing the criminal penalty for marijuana possession to a Class C misdemeanor, but not legalizing the drug,” according to the Houston Chronicle.

Following President Joe Biden’s pardon of federal marijuana offenders last year, a spokesperson for Abbott said that the governor would not be following the White House’s lead.