Kris Taylor (l) and Yasir Hashim want to be the first licensed distributors of cannabidiol in central Texas. (Photo by Montinique Monroe)
Two summers ago, shortly after Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Texas Compassionate Use Act into law, marijuana reform advocates were cautiously optimistic about how the core components of the law would be put into effect. Little else was sure except that cannabidiol, a low-THC cannabis product known to treat and prevent epileptic seizures, would be licensed and regulated for private, medical use in Texas. But two years of tightening regulations and skyrocketing licensing fees have dimmed hope for advocates, entrepreneurs, and patients (see “Lege Limits Use of Cannabis Oil for Epileptics,” Nov. 18, 2016). The Department of Public Safety, the agency overseeing the TCU’s rollout and eventual regulation, has made it hard for aspiring suppliers to even apply for entry into the industry – reducing the minimum number of in-state licensees from 12 to three, and imposing a licensing fee of $488,520 for a two-year contract – up from $6,000, yet somehow, after a November 2016 proposal to jack the cost up to $1.3 million, still somewhat “compassionate” in comparison. (Those figures don’t account for renewal and registration fees, which have also skyrocketed.) DPS has said that the licensing fees will help pay for application processing, facility inspections, background checks, security, and more. Texas will have the highest licensing fees of any state that participates in a marijuana program.
Such a lofty cost seems to be