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Plutonium Slightly More Regulated than Cannabis in Texas

Photo Ed Schipul

Economics

Plutonium Slightly More Regulated than Cannabis in Texas

Regulations on cannabis in Texas are so severe that one lawmaker joked it’s more regulated than plutonium. 

Medical marijuana exists in Texas, the reddest of red states, the homeland of Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Steve Austin, and attitudes bigger than the average cowboy belt buckle. In 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Texas’s own Compassionate Use Act, which allows people suffering from incurable epilepsy to access low-THC, high-CBD oils after receiving approval from two doctors. In other words, Texas’s medical-marijuana program doesn’t offer much, and what little it does offer will be available to only a select few.

Even that tiny bone might not be thrown, if no marijuana producers willing to abide by the Texas-sized rules and regulations for the program can be found. And considering that Texas will only hand out three grow licenses—with a bill to the state of almost $500,000 due up front, cash needed to pay for a mandatory 24-hour security presence by Texas state troopers—that’s a serious concern. “They’re regulating it more than plutonium, for God’s sake,” cannabis advocate Heather Fazio, of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told The Denver Post’s Cannabist.

This is hyperbole, of course—if it were true, the worldwide marijuana trade would have to find a distribution method other than the U.S. mails, and commercial airline flights wouldn’t be de-facto courier services. That’s also the point: This isn’t fissionable material that America buys from Russia. It’s weed. It’s a plant that grows wild, even in Texas. The chemicals in the cupboard under your kitchen sink are more deadly, as authorities freely admit—even in Texas.

But it may as well be plutonium, or unicorn eggs, because the end result is the same: There isn’t going to be any unless Texas relaxes its rules. To be one of the exclusive cannabis producers in one of the country’s biggest states sounds like a decent business opportunity. With those rules, even companies with deep-pocketed and patient investors are staying away. “We could do it,” Pete Goodwin of Texas-based Growblox Science told the newspaper. But with so few patients in the state to sell to, securing such a pricey license “doesn’t make financial sense.”

Texas is supposed to license three providers by Sept. 1. Fazio expects “someone” to step up and pay the license fee—if not Goodwin, then some organization from out of state, maybe one that views Texas as a smart long-term play. Terri Carriker, whose 14-year-old daughter suffers from the kind of epilepsy that patients in other states are treating with CBD oil, doesn’t really care who finally overcomes the Texas-sized obstacles, as long as someone does. Which, at this point, is far from certain.

TELL US, should Texas ease up on its cannabis restrictions?

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