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Texas medical marijuana CBD program rules adopted, now taking applications

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has adopted rules for the Compassionate Use Program which allows CBD oil for epileptic children.

The DPS committee met on Wednesday, February 22 and decided that they will open up the application process beginning on Thursday, February 23, 2017 and will accept applicants until Thursday, March 23, 2017. Those granted a license will be announced on April 30.

DPS officials must license at least three dispensaries before September 1 this year.

One of the big changes is the implementation of a production limit. On September 1 the Department of State Health Services will issue a report indicating the number of intractable epilepsy patients in Texas and the most current recommended dosage to treat an individual for one year. The DPS will then determine the maximum amount of product necessary to treat one-third of the population and the number of plants needed to produce this amount.

Each licensee will be prohibited from annually producing more than the amount of product described, divided by the number of licensees. There is a provision that if it can be shown that additional plants and product need to be produced to meet demands, the DPS can raise the limits. DPS will updated these counts annually.

Research will also be limited to only what is necessary for the development and production of low-THC cannabis products. The restriction against broader research is intended to limit the potential for violations of federal law.

A non-refundable application fee of $7,356 is required when an application is submitted, and a licensing fee of $488,520 is required once a license is approved. The renewal fee every two years is $318,511, and there is a fee of $530 for each person employed by or associated with the dispensary.

There will be a litany of other requirements, including liability insurance which is estimated to cost about $5,000 per year, demonstrating the ability to precisely grow, extract, and deliver the medication, properly secure buildings needed for operations, comprehension of federal law, and the capital to stay in business for a minimum of two years.

Facilities will also be inspected multiple times each week. This is a compromise on a previous rule which would have required that a DPS officer be on the premises at all times. It also lowered the renewal fee from what was originally proposed to be $1.3 million.

The full rules and regulations can be found on the DPS website.

This program may drastically change depending on how the 2017 Texas legislative session shakes out.

Currently there are two identical bills, each in the House and Senate, which would greatly expand the Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP). Both HB 2107 and SB 269 legalizes whole plant medical cannabis for a wide range of debilitating medical issues, limits application fees, and provides patients with the ability to grow at least six plants for their own use.

A major update to TCUP also comes in the form of a slight language change. The program established by legislation passed during the 2015 legislative session requires a prescription from doctors in order to obtain CBD oil. This is unlike other states where doctors instead recommend medical cannabis. Given that cannabis is illegal federally, doctors could lose their ability to prescribe medication if they prescribe an illegal substance. The new legislation updates that wording from prescribe to recommend.

It is currently unknown if the current wording of the law will prevent TCUP from taking off at all if doctors refuse to prescribe the CBD oil out of fear of federal repercussions. Program administrators plan to get around this issue by having their own independent prescription system however.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas and serves as Deputy Director for NORML of Waco. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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