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Texas is Getting More Medical Cannabis Dispensaries as DPS Opens Application Process

By: Buz Deliere | January 16, 2023

The Lone Star State is expanding its medical cannabis dispensary network, as the Texas Department of Public Safety recently revealed a new application process for prospective retailers! With this fresh opportunity on the horizon, more Texans may soon be able to access medically beneficial cannabinoids.

In the past three years, Texas has taken a slow approach to cannabis legalization with only three dispensaries receiving licensure. In an effort to bring awareness of medical marijuana benefits, advocates are pushing for further progress in the state.

This week, the application process, sparked by the Compassionate Use Program, to add more dispensaries to the state started on Monday. This opportunity will be open until April 28th to submit their application and become part of this growing program.

The Texas Department of Public Safety recently released a statement indicating that the number of medical marijuana dispensary licenses approved by the state may remain undecided until after summer. This is due to potential legislative action that could affect how many are ultimately issued.

In 2015, Texas took strides toward improving the access to cannabis therapies by passing a law that legalized cannabis-related substances for medical purposes. However, this legislation put limits on how much THC was allowed and only covered certain conditions.

Following a few years of legislation, the Compassionate Use Program saw an expansion in conditions that could be treated with potential therapies. Despite this improvement, many advocates still feel restricted by what conditions qualify and are currently advocating for even greater leeway through upcoming legislative decisions.

At the December DPS Commission meeting, Wayne Mueller, Chief of DPS' regulatory services division, announced that applications for potential new medical marijuana licenses would open this month. However, the Texas Department of Public Safety won't make a decision on when to add additional licenses until June or July.

Mueller aims to use this survey as a way to gain insight into what people truly want, giving them the chance to assess and respond accordingly.

Despite advocates' frustrations, access to medicinal cannabidiol remains limited in Texas with just three dispensaries now open-- two located near Austin and one further west of San Antonio in Schulenberg. The current lack of supply stands out amidst the increasing demand for medicinally-beneficial cannabinoid products that contain low levels of THC.

Since its inception in 2015, the medical program has experienced a surge of interest. Initially, it was only available to patients struggling with severe and unmanageable epileptic seizures - but now more people may benefit from these treatments.

In 2018, DPS data showed an incredible enrollment of over 650 individuals in their newly implemented program - 600 patients and 50 doctors. This remarkable statistic is proof that the policy has had a successful launch.

In 2019, the Legislature took action to expand access to medical marijuana prescriptions by allowing an influx of patients with terminal cancer, autism, and multiple sclerosis eligibility. This new law is expected to help thousands more individuals in need obtain relief from their symptoms.

In Texas, the Compassionate Use Program has seen a slow increase in patient numbers, compared to other states, largely due to limitations on which medical conditions are eligible for treatment.

Medical marijuana legalization is growing in support, evidenced by State Sen. Jose Menendez's recent bill to do just that - legalizing cannabis for medical use and expanding the range of physical conditions covered under the program. Despite this push forward, however, there remains uncertainty as to how far lawmakers are willing to go with expansion efforts.

Menéndez says, “We should leave the decision of cannabis therapies up to a medical professional and to their patients. We don’t regulate how doctors can dispense pain medication or opioids or narcotics.”

In a statement, Menéndez called for an increase in legal cannabis dispensaries, arguing that access to these should be regulated with the same standards as pharmacies. He believes individuals should have safe and affordable access to medical marijuana without restrictions on the number of outlets available.


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