TxMJPolicy Advocates: Texas Compassionate Use Program should be accessible and transparent

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) is tasked with regulating the Texas Compassionate Use Program (T.CUP). DPS is governed by the Public Safety Commission, which allows public comment at their regular meetings.

Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, and Jax Finkel, director of Texas NORML, both offered comments about the lack of accessibility and transparency for those wanting to participate in T.CUP.

Heather’s comments covered licensing fees and the number of licenses issued. Read them here. Jax covered the recently suspended business application period and lack of transparency in the process. Read them here.

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Background

On October 9th, we broke the news that, after opening up a 30-day application period for business to apply for licensure under the Texas Compassionate Use Program (T.CUP), the Department of Public Safety (DPS) had abruptly (and without explanation) suspended the process.

News Coverage: Austin-American Statesman | Texas Tribune | San Antonio Express-News | KXAN News

When pressed, DPS Deputy Director Skylor Hearn told the San Antonio Express News that the department needs to assess patient demand before revisiting whether more dispensaries should open in Texas. “By all accounts we’re meeting today’s demand,” he said. “We want to see what that’s going to look like in the next few months and decide whether we need to do anything.”

My Opinion: They’re right. It’s unlikely that more licenses are necessary to ensure reasonable statewide access, which is their only statutory obligation. However, it is hard to believe that DPS did no market analysis before announcing and moving forward with this application process. I think they are taking the heat for a top-down decision that was influenced by lobbyists for at least one of the three currently licensed businesses who did not want to see their market share diminished. Economically, I can’t blame them. They’ve sunk millions into their businesses and may now finally begin to see a return on their investment.

Bottom Line: Even if we assume corporate influence didn’t play a role here, as a matter of government accountability, it is wholly unacceptable for DPS to neglect their responsibility of due diligence, especially when they have been tasked with regulating a program that directly impacts the health of seriously ill patients.

This cannot happen again and we’re going to continue to hold the state accountable! 

Thank you for your support and attention to this important issue. Please consider making a contribution to our efforts during the interim.

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