Compassion stripped from cannabis law


Cannabis oil is a limited form of medical marijuana.
Cannabis oil is a limited form of medical marijuana. TNS

Proposed amendments to the Texas Compassionate Use Act could hinder the program.

The state law passed last year allows patients with intractable epilepsy the option of treatment with cannabis oil, a relative of marijuana. It has to be prescribed a doctor who treats epilepsy and is registered with the Compassionate Use Program.

Operating license fees for the three businesses that will handle and process the low-THC cannabis currently cost about $6,000.

The Department of Public Safety’s Public Safety Commission wants to make the initial fee around $1.3 million with a $975,000 renewal rate. That’s a 21,566 percent initial increase.

The commission wants the three licensees to be small businesses and to pay the state about $5,000 for each manager, director or employee.

On the DPS website, the “executive leadership” says the fees reflect adding DPS troopers on premises and a “general recalculation of the cost associated with administering the program.”

Most of that cost comes from commission proposals.

The commission wants to beef up fire preventive measures and security and make sure the businesses have upgraded ventilation systems, backup generators and HD security cameras. They also want DPS officers on the premises around the clock.

The commission estimates the program will cost about $4.4 million over two years.

State Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, is one of the authors of the Compassionate Use Act, and she’s angry about the proposal.

“The cost is not workable,” she said. “A lot of people are unhappy.”

She said she’s working with the governor’s office on amendments that are more feasible. She’s also working with other legislators on a response to the commission.

These amendments would be a lot for a small business to accommodate for this niche market. They could scare away potential operators, leading to a lack of resources for the Compassionate Use Program.

Fortunately, these are just proposals, and they are under public review. You can submit a public comment until Nov. 28 for commission review.

The commission will meet again in December. With input from Klick and the public, it could draft a more feasible proposal.

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