Despite Texas’ nearly symbolic “low-THC” medical marijuana law, which legalizes cannabis products that contain no more than 1% THC, the state received 132 applications for dispensary business permits as of an April deadline.
The Texas Department of Public Safety said, however, that it’s not bound by any specific timeline for issuing dispensary permits, making it unclear just when the Texas cannabis industry might formally launch, KVUE reported.
“The department will issue only the number of licenses necessary to ensure reasonable statewide access to, and the availability of, low-THC cannabis for patients registered in the compassionate-use registry,” the agency stated back in January, KVUE reported.
The number of patients has risen to just 68,611 this year, according to a Department of Public Safety report. That’s less than one half of 1% of the state population, which is almost 30 million.
Attempts at expanding the state medical marijuana program fell short during the Texas legislative session earlier this year, but that didn’t stop the 132 applicants, all hoping to gain a foothold in the potentially massive cannabis market.
The application process started with a bill passed by the Texas Legislature in 2015, which was at the time primarily to allow epilepsy patients to legally use CBD. More medical conditions have been added to the list of eligible criteria for legal MMJ patients since then, according to an analysis by the Marijuana Policy Project, but Texas’ medical cannabis program remains one of the smallest and most restrictive in the nation.
Additionally, the Texas Legislature only meets for five months every other year, and the state has no citizen petition system to get proposed laws on the ballot for voters to decide, making it one of the toughest states in which to enact significant reforms.