In 2015, the only marijuana-related bill to pass the Texas Legislature was the Compassionate Use Act.
The law allows certain doctors to prescribe cannabis oil, a low-THC marijuana product, as treatment for intractable epilepsy. The doctor must be registered with the Compassionate Use Program.
State Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, helped write the bill, stressing the very limited legalization of a minimal amount of medical marijuana.
“This is kind of like the difference between grape juice and wine,” Klick told Star-Telegram reporter Anna M. Tinsley when the bill passed.
Two years later, the state is still arguing about how much this grape juice should cost.
One of the selling points of the law was that it would be self-funding and no taxpayer money would be spent on it, but the state can’t seem to settle on a reasonable price.
When the original bill was passed, operating license fees to produce and sell the product were to be $6,000.
Klick said she never thought that was a reasonable amount.
“The registry alone would have well eaten that up,” she said.
But last year, the Department of Public Safety’s Public Safety Commission proposed an exorbitant increase in the fees.
Instead of $6,000 it would be $1.3 million — a 21,566 percent initial increase.
That cost was not workable, Klick told the Star-Telegram Editorial Board after the original proposed amendments were released by the DPS in November.
Klick wasn’t happy and worked with the governor’s office to create a more feasible alternative.
Now, after a public comment period and Klick’s input, the license fee has been lowered to about $488,000.
“It’s a little on the high side, but it’s significantly better,” Klick said.
Yes, but it’s still higher than most other states’ licensing fees. A big price tag could deter organizations from participating.
These changes are under public review and are available for comment. The commission meets again Feb. 22.
Klick says more needs to be done to make this program work. We agree.