Texas cannabis oil dispensaries more than a year away, will only benefit a fraction of patients

EL PASO, Texas - The Texas compassionate use was signed into law by Gov. Gregg Abbott on June 1. It legalized the medical use of low THC cannabis oil for seizure patients, but those in need will have to wait more than a year to get their hands on it.

The Department of Public Safety published regulations for dispensation on its website. It outlines the qualifications for cultivating and dispensing cannabis oil in Texas.

Although dispensaries aren't set to open until September 2017, Senator Jose Rodriguez who is a coauthor on the bill said dispensation regulations are an important step in the process.

"These are the regulations that will implement the provisions of the bill which, of course, includes very basic requirements for who is going to be dispensing the cannabis oil, what kinds of qualifications are they going to have to meet, what kind of security measures are going to be in place," Rodriguez said.

Colt DeMorris is the executive director of a marijuana advocacy group, but he did not support the compassionate use program.

"It doesn't help patients. I mean the patients that really could use it and there's so many different ailments that are left out that it could treat," DeMorris said.
He said that's because the bill is limited only to patients with intractable epilepsy who have tried multiple FDA approved drugs. They must also secure prescriptions from multiple neurologists on the compassionate use registry.

"There's no question that you do have to go through a lot of hurdles before you're eligible to receive treatment under this particular legislation," Rodriguez said.

Some medical marijuana advocates believe just the fact that Texas lawmakers are recognizing cannabis as medicine is monumental.

Rodriguez admits a broader medical marijuana law is needed. He said it's something he plans to work on for the next legislative session.

"It will be hard for the governor or anyone else to oppose this particular step of permitting marijuana for medicinal purposes. It's just something that I think scientifically and medically is proving to be very beneficial for people with different kinds of conditions," Rodriguez said.

DPS must license at least three dispensaries in Texas by next September. Nonprofits interested in opening a dispensary can look at the regulations published by DPS and apply on its website.