The first cannabis dispensary is set to open in Texas next month, a little more than four months after the Texas Department of Public Safety granted the first three medical marijuana licenses in the history of the state.
Beginning February 8, a company called Compassionate Cultivation will allow qualified patients access to low-THC medical cannabis products and state-regulated cannabidiol oil, known as CBD oil, from a shop at 12701 Lowden Ln. in Manchaca, near Austin. Currently, the products are only available to state-registered patients or their guardians.
For Texans unable to travel to the Austin area, the dispensary will offer a delivery service to accommodate patients across the state — including those in San Antonio.
"We are thrilled to offer the highest quality medical cannabis products, with plants grown and refined by our cultivation and engineering experts at our state-of-the-art facility," says Compassionate Cultivation CEO Morris Denton in a release.
Following the passing of the Compassionate Use Act in 2015, Texas doctors are allowed to prescribe marijuana-based treatments to patients suffering from intractable epilepsy. However, like all states that have legalized recreational and medicinal marijuana, it's still a violation of federal law.
Under the Obama administration, barriers were set in place to help shield the marijuana industry from federal prosecution, but earlier this month, the Trump administration announced it would be renewing federal enforcement of marijuana laws, a decision that garnered criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.
Texas physicians do run the risk of board sanctions and federal prosecution, despite evidence that low-grade marijuana can help in the treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders. According to Houston Public Media, only seven of Texas' 400 neurologists have signed up to prescribe CBD oil, likely due to the threat of losing their medical license.
Despite turmoil and confusion in the growing industry, Compassionate Cultivation says its staff has been going across the state in an attempt to educate physicians on the benefits of medicinal marijuana.
"I'm amazed by the medical capacity of this program," says dispensary manager Cullen Vujosevic. "In New Mexico and other states, there's no medical provider interaction woven into the medical cannabis program. But in Texas, the Compassionate Use Act is heavily integrated with the health care providers who closely interact with patients. That allows physicians to provide patients with a much higher level of medical care."
Patients can also receive information and advice from dispensary staff. "[We] provide patient consultations, physician outreach resources, and detailed information on our product lines and retail merchandise," Vujosevic says.