Texas officials have suddenly stopped accepting applications for medical cannabis dispensaries one week into the announced application period window.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) said it will no longer accepting applications for new permits even though it originally said an application window would be open from Oct.1st through Nov. 1st. The DPS did not say why it stopped accepting applications.
“The department will continue to assess dispensing capacity requirements, along with the need for any additional licenses, as we work through recent legislative changes to the program,” an agency spokesperson wrote in an email.
A total of 43 businesses applied for licenses in 2017, when the state first began its medical cannabis program under the 2015 Compassionate Use Act, but the DPS only approved three, the minimum mandated by the law. Many patients were looking forward to more dispensaries as it would give them a chance to price shop and give them more options.
“To have more dispensaries, since there’s only three (currently in the state), there’s not a lot of price competition there,” said Jax Finkel, executive director of Texas NORML. “I know some patients are paying between $1,000 and $2,000 a month for their oil medicine and it’s not covered by Medicare, it’s not covered by insurance. So it’s an out-of-pocket cost.”
In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 3703 to expand the state’s medical cannabis program by adding more conditions that qualify for medical cannabis. Previously, cannabis-based medicines were only available for patients with intractable epilepsy who met certain requirements. The Texas Department of State Health Services held a public meeting in September to determine which neurodegenerative disorders would qualify for medical cannabis. Until the conditions are officially determined and the state has an accurate patient count, the DPS will have to stop accepting applications.