We often are asked about what’s ahead for Texas cannabis law reform and what Compassionate Cultivation is doing to foster expansion of our state’s medical cannabis law. I often reply that legalization in the Lone Star State is like climbing Mount Everest—to get to the summit, it’s going to be arduous and progress is one step at a time.
It’s important to consider the current status of Texas medical cannabis and how we got here. The Texas Compassionate Use Act was approved by the Legislature in 2015. It took dogged efforts on the part of advocates and supportive lawmakers.
It’s not surprising that in Texas, the Legislature approved a program that is conservative in its scope, with just one qualifying condition: intractable epilepsy. Further, only three businesses were licensed to produce nonsmokable cannabis products; regulations set strict limits on how the medicine is formulated—there must be at least 10 percent of the compound cannabidiol (CBD) and a limit of 0.5 percent psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—and there’s a requirement for intensive physician involvement throughout a patient’s use of the program, since the regulated medicine is available only by prescription.
The program became fully operational in February 2018, when Compassionate Cultivation started serving patients. As the only state-licensed cannabis business founded by Texans and headquartered in the Lone Star State, it’s Compassionate Cultivation’s responsibility to produce consistent, top-quality medicine, to operate with transparency and adhere to all regulations, and to help drive the industry forward in a systemic, reasonable way that will ultimately be considered a success by anyone who supports broader patient access to cannabis.
The quest for Texas cannabis law reform needs to be strategic and realistic. The call for change runs the gamut from a fully comprehensive medical program to full legalization.
As much as we at Compassionate Cultivation believe in the therapeutic power and potential of our medicine and support broad expanded access for patients, let’s be real about what can and can’t pass in Texas in 2019.
It is our responsibility as a business and as authentic, credible advocates to take a measured, informed approach with pushing for legislation that delivers tangible progress and gives lawmakers something they can say yes to. We didn’t get into this for moral victories. We got into this to help lead a transformation in Texas.
We just began serving patients, and it will take time to demonstrate the effectiveness and integrity of the program. We need to prove that the Compassionate Use Program works on all levels. We have to produce medicine that is consistently of the highest quality and reduces suffering for epilepsy patients. And, we have to focus on what’s currently allowable and have solid arguments for increasing the program’s scope and reach.
For Compassionate Cultivation, that means the priority is to open the program to more patients where low-THC / high-CBD products are shown to have impact, and strategically adding conditions or symptoms where research supports the efficacy of medical cannabis. We hope the momentum builds from 2017’s bipartisan efforts to add conditions such as autism and PTSD.
To move the needle on Texas medical cannabis, we need to work with legislators, leaders of political organizations and state-based agencies to educate, inform and change opinions on a daily basis. We are working relentlessly to address the stigmas around cannabis head-on and change perception of the plant, and of what a cannabis business looks like by operating with full transparency and integrity.
We encourage any and all officials and organizations to tour our facilities, to see firsthand how we operate and make lab-tested, quality-assured medicine for our patients. When they meet patients and hear their success stories, they see how this medicine not only changes their lives, but their families’. The ripple effect of this medicine is huge.
We seek out the latest science and research to share. We speak publicly and engage with special-interest groups. And, Compassionate Cultivation runs support group and focus group meetings with the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas to provide patients with education and information, and to gain feedback to better address their needs.
Knowledge is power—and here in Texas education about the efficacy of medical cannabis is critical to moving people from skepticism to confidence, and to moving the local cannabis industry forward in a way that best serves patients, now and in the future.
We owe it to our patients and the community to continue operating with complete openness and to be a trusted resource for consistent, top-quality medicine. Every day we strive to prove to lawmakers that the Compassionate Use Program works, and that more patients should have access to this safe, effective and incredible plant-based medicine.