In 2015, Texas established the extremely limited Texas Compassionate Use Program (T.CUP), which allowed access to low-THC cannabis for those with intractable epilepsy. After four years of implementation, three businesses had been licensed and only several hundred patients (in a state of 27 million) had been served.
Earlier this year, our state legislature passed HB 3703, a bill providing minimal expansion of the program. In response to this expansion, on September 16, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced they would open a 30-day application period for businesses wishing to become licensed to cultivate, process, and dispense low-THC cannabis.
That application period began on October 1, but in a surprise turn of events, DPS has suddenly (and without explanation) suspended the T.CUP application process.
In an email this morning, a representative from DPS offered the following statement:
“The department is suspending the application process for licenses in the Compassionate Use Program, effective immediately. We will review the program and the need for any additional licenses again in the coming months.”
The issue has been covered by the Austin-American Statesman:
[Heather Fazio] called it highly irregular that the Department of Public Safety would suspend the process midway through its own application window.
“I’m surprised by this,” Fazio said. “It’s a very unusual thing to happen — for them to have not done their due diligence [before moving] forward with the application process” that they started.
Also covered by the Texas Tribune:
“I find it concerning that a week into the application process it’s suspended with no notice and no clear communication with doctors, patients or the general public,” [Jax Finkel, Texas NORML] said.
State Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, who spearheaded the legislation last session to expand the Compassionate Use Act, said Wednesday afternoon that the removal of the licensing application from DPS’s website was likely a “temporary delay.”
“Hang tight for now,” Klick said. “This is likely just a temporary delay until we know which of the incurable neurodegenerative conditions are appropriate to be included on the list.”
If you have questions or concerns, please consider contacting DPS directly through their website. As more information is made available, updates will be posted to our website: www.TexasMarijuanaPolicy.org.
Important Note: There are still three licensed businesses that are fully operational and access for qualifying patients is unlikely to be interrupted.