The Texas Department of Public Safety suspended the permit application process for medical marijuana dispensaries without warning.
According to the Department of Compassionate Use Program website, the department is currently not accepting any applications. Initially, the state had said that the application process would remain open from October 1 to November 1.
This announcement was quite a shock to advocacy groups that were looking to see the implementation of the expanded medical cannabis program since the list of qualifying conditions was expanded by the legislature to include ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), terminal cancer, autism, and seizures disorders. Initially, medical marijuana was used to treat only people with intractable epilepsy who fulfilled certain requirements.
The Department of Public Safety in Texas did not explain as to why the permit application process was halted.
The agency spokesperson wrote in an email saying that as the department works through the recent changes in the legislature regarding the program, it is assessing the dispensing capacity of the current license holders while checking if there is a need for additional medical marijuana dispensary licenses.
During the period which the application was to be open (October-November), the number of companies applying for the license was expected to be high. In 2017, among the 43 applicants who applied for the preliminary permits, only three were accepted. This included Surterra Texas, Cansortium, Texas, and Compassionate Cultivation.
According to the executive director of Texas NORML, Jax Finkel, the termination of the application process was a letdown as many patients were looking forward to comparing prices for a better deal on the CBD products once the licenses were approved. More permits meant the patients would access medical marijuana affordably.
Finkel further said that medical marijuana is expensive, and many patients pay thousands of dollars out of their pocket for the drug since insurance and Medicare do not provide cover for marijuana products. Competition would be stiff after issuing additional licenses which would promote a drop in the price of CBD products.
Finkel added that it is alarming for the state to suspend the application process a week into the process without warning or communication to the doctors, patients and the general public.
On Wednesday, the state Assembly representative Stephanie Klick who led the last legislative session to expand the Compassionate Use Act, said that the suspension of the application process is probably a temporary delay.
Experts believe the cannabis industry, including actors like MustGrow Biologics Corp. (CSE: MGRO) and ChineseInvestors.com Inc. (OTCQB: CIIX), could be disturbed that a process to give patients more options has been derailed.
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