Texas will vote on an expansive medical marijuana amendment in 2019, but in the meantime the law passed in 2015 is about to move forward with three medical marijuana growers that are pioneering the cannabis movement in Texas. Legal marijuana growers Surterra, Compassionate Cultivation and Cansortium Texas ready once the okay is official.
The benefits of medical marijuana are becoming more apparent, especially with certain medical conditions like epilepsy where CBD compounds have shown a very real ability to reduce the amount seizures. If Texas can see the validity of medical marijuana, why can’t the federal government?
Three small companies — two of them in the Austin metro area — are on the verge of making history by winning the first Texas licenses to grow, process and sell a form of medical marijuana in the state.
But the renown isn’t expected to equate to quick profits, and success over the long haul likely depends as much on the Texas Legislature as on their business acumen. The companies – Compassionate Cultivation, Surterra Texas and Cansortium Texas – are facing strict state regulations that limit their customer bases and how they formulate their products, on top of investment costs running into the millions of dollars.
“It is safe to say that it is a challenging market,” said Morris Denton, chief executive of Compassionate Cultivation, which is retrofitting a 7,200-square-foot Manchaca warehouse with customized equipment for growing and processing cannabis.
Surterra Texas is planning to operate on Wells Branch Parkway in North Austin, according to documents filed with the state, while Cansortium Texas will be on West U.S. 90 in Schulenburg. Neither Surterra nor Cansortium made executives available for comment.
“For us in Texas, the opportunity is long term,” Denton said. “The market holds promise for the future.”
He said an initial goal for his company is simply to prove that medical marijuana can be dispensed safely in Texas and is beneficial to patients, in the hopes that state leaders increase access to it in coming years and render the business more lucrative. Proponents of medical cannabis in Texas already are anticipating a major push during the next regular session of the state Legislature in 2019 to try to make it more readily available to patients.
Final state licenses for the three companies — giving them green lights to begin growing their medical cannabis — are expected to be issued soon under the Texas Compassionate Use Act, which was approved by the Texas Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2015. The companies were selected from 43 applicants for conditional licenses in May, triggering a series of inspections of their facilities leading up to final licensing.
The Texas Cannabis Industry Association recently filed a formal complaint regarding the roll out of the program with the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is in charge of regulating it, and with Abbott. The group’s complaint — endorsed by 10 of the unsuccessful applicants — seeks issuance of an additional nine dispensary licenses, beyond the minimum of three mandated by the Compassionate Use Act, and accuses Abbott of “a conscious ongoing effort to severely undermine” the program.
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