Tag: Texas

Cautious Texas Among Last States to OK Medical Marijuana

MANCHACA, Texas (AP) — When California rings in the new year with the sale of recreational pot for the first time, Texas will be tiptoeing into its own marijuana milestone: a medical cannabis program so restrictive that doubts swirl over who will even use it.

Texas is the last big state to allow some form of medical marijuana, albeit an oil extract so low in the psychoactive component, THC, that it couldn’t get a person high. Though it might seem that Texas policymakers have softened their attitude toward the drug, bringing them more in line with the U.S. population as a whole, they have not. A joint could still land you in jail in Texas, and the state’s embrace of medical marijuana comes with a heavy dose of caution.

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Among the concerns are the license fees to grow marijuana in Texas — which are the highest in the U.S., at nearly $500,000 — and that the program is rolling out with just eight participating doctors in a state of 27 million people. And, like other states, access is limited to a small pool of patients who have been diagnosed with intractable epilepsy and tried at least two other treatments first.

“They didn’t belong in jail, but that’s what happens in Texas.”

Dr. Paul Van Ness, Baylor College of Medicine neurologist

“It’s heartbreaking. Being able to say, ‘Yes, you can get it,’ but reading over the whole law there is still some things we have to jump over,” said Cristina Ollervidez, 31, who lives near the Texas-Mexico border and is three hours from the closest participating doctor. Her 7-year-old daughter, Lailah, has a type of epilepsy called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and is in a wheelchair.

Her daughter isn’t listed as having intractable epilepsy but still has days when she gets several seizures.

“Seeing Texas put limitations, I do get that part,” Ollervidez said. “But I don’t think they did their exact research.”

The frustration over access is similar in other states that have also passed restrictive medical marijuana laws. One Georgia legislator goes so far as to have low-dose cannabis oil shipped to his office from Colorado as a workaround to his own bill, which allows people to possess marijuana but doesn’t give them a legal way to obtain it.

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Texas is similar to more than a dozen states that restrict access to a low-THC cannabis oil. However, Texas — which is 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) wide — licensed just three dispensaries, none of which are in the western half of the state or in fast-growing cities along the border with Mexico. And the Republican who won over skeptical conservatives to pass her law in 2015 is noncommittal about expanding the program.

That leaves Morris Denton, who runs the Compassionate Cultivation dispensary near Austin, looking far down the road.

“If you’re willing to take a long-term view and you’re willing to suffer a few scars along the way, that success will come,” Denton said. “The lessons themselves represent a barrier to entry for others who may come in. But I think it’s hard to pinpoint how, where and when to start a legal medical cannabis industry.”

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Texas has also placed tighter control on marijuana growers. The licensing fee is 80 times more than originally recommended. The Texas Department of Public Safety once proposed a fee as high as $1.3 million to help offset the costs of state troopers patrolling the dispensaries, although that recommendation was later dropped.

Growers are required to have surveillance video of every square foot of their facility and to preserve recordings for two years, which is longer than some police dashcam footage must be retained in Texas. They also aren’t allowed to bring in a third-party to test the quality of their product.

The driver behind the Texas law is Republican Stephanie Klick, a Christian conservative who strongly opposes the recreational use of drugs and who didn’t support expanding her law this spring. She said it took her 18 months to round up enough votes in the Legislature and convince skeptics that patients weren’t going to abuse the cannabis oil.

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“There was one sheriff that thought these kids were going to be juvenile delinquents and end up in his jail. And these are really sick kids,” Klick said, noting that lawmakers will consider expansion only after they’ve seen the results of the current framework.

Only four states — Kansas, South Dakota, Nebraska and Idaho — have no form of medical marijuana on the books. Seventeen others, including Texas, allow only low-THC medical cannabis, according to research from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Kristen Hanson, a program director for NCSL, said Texas is unusual for requiring that a doctor “prescribe” the cannabis oil instead of using the word “referral” like most states. The distinction is blamed for dissuading more Texas doctors from signing up, because under federal law, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug with no medical use and therefore can’t be prescribed.

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Dr. Paul Van Ness, a neurologist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, is one of the few doctors who have registered with state to participate in the program. He said he supports the restrictive nature of the Texas program, though he concedes the downside is limited access.

He said he already has patients smoking marijuana, some of whom have been arrested because of it.

“They didn’t belong in jail, but that’s what happens in Texas,” Van Ness said. “So if they can do it legally, that’s a lot safer.”


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Texas Issues One of Three Planned Producer Licenses, But Questions Remain

Production of low-THC, high-CBD cannabis can begin in Texas, as the state’s Department of Public Safety granted one of three planned licenses to a medical marijuana producer on Friday.

The constricted medical marijuana program was created by the Texas Compassionate Use Act more than two years ago. Currently, only patients suffering from intractable epilepsy are allowed to receive low-THC cannabis with permission from a very limited number of physicians.

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Cansortium Texas, the company that received the license on Friday, will now start growing medical cannabis. Two other companies, Compassionate Cultivation and Surterra, were granted provisional licenses back in May but are still waiting on their final licenses.

Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Leafly that it remains unclear why the other two cultivators weren’t issued final licenses today. Each of the three that were given provisional licenses had to pass onsite inspections before given a final license to start producing, so that may be a reason.

Even with the delivery of a first license, the Texas medical marijuana program still has major issues to work through.

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According to the Marijuana Policy Project, data obtained from the Texas Medical Bureau, the American Board of Psychiatry, Neurology, and the American Board of Clinical Neurophysiology indicate that only 411 doctors in Texas have the necessary qualifications to register for the program.

According to MPP, this amounts to approximately 0.54% of the licensed physicians in Texas.

The number who actually register will likely end up being lower. Some physicians may not decide to register in light of the personal and professional risk involved.

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“The few patients that could be helped by this program are now one step closer to finding relief,” Fazio said. “However, the extremely limited scope and flawed language may doom the program unless it is revised.”

So far, all attempts to fix the program have failed. Earlier this year, Rep. Eddie Lucio III introduced HB 2107, which would have resolved the problems contained in the current Compassionate Use Program.

A majority of House members signed on as supporters, but the bill did not end up getting to a floor vote before the end of the session.

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Watch This: Congressmen Discuss Federal Cannabis Policy, Jeff Sessions

It’s not often we get to hear members of Congress talk openly and at length about cannabis. For years, the topic was a dangerous one, seen by most elected officials as more of a political liability than a way to win votes. But as popular support grows for legalization—or, at the very least, letting states chart their own course on cannabis—more and more officeholders are wading into the debate.

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On Tuesday, four Congressional representatives—who represent both Democrats and Republicans and who hail from four states with drastically different cannabis laws—sat down for what was billed as an “open conversation about marijuana policy.” Over the course of about half an hour, they discussed the growing support for legalization, the threat of a federal crackdown by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration, and the need for Congress to update federal cannabis laws. The event was broadcast live on Facebook, and the representatives finished by taking questions from viewers.

Here’s the complete video:

The participants were:

  • Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
  • Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
  • Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA)
  • Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)

Jaclyn Finkel, executive director of Texas NORML, moderated the conversation.

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Perhaps the most important takeaway of the talk was this: Contact your congressional representatives and encourage them to support protecting state cannabis laws! (Not sure who those people are? Use this handy tool to find out.)


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

The Leafly Marketwatch: What Percentage of Your Dispensary Visitors are Out-of-State?

We usher in 2016 with the hope that a few states will join Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. as newly minted members of the legal cannabis club. In the meantime, we took a closer look at the states that are currently operating legal retail cannabis dispensaries to see where exactly their visitors are coming from. What percentage of out-of-state folks is curious about what Colorado, Washington, and Oregon have to offer?

Colorado

We took a look at the last six months of data and broke out visits to Colorado dispensary pages by their state of origin, excluding Colorado so we could focus on out-of-state visitors.

Out-of-state traffic to Colorado dispensary pages on Leafly
Click on the image for a larger version

 

As you can see from the bar graph, the top two states sending traffic to Colorado’s dispensary listings on Leafly are Texas at nearly 33% and Florida at close to 11%. Interestingly, neither state has a legal recreational or medical marijuana market in place, although they did recently pass low-THC, high-CBD cannabis oil laws. Florida has selected growers for its program, but no cannabis oil has been dispensed yet. Texas, meanwhile, does not expect to be operational until 2017.

Why are two highly restrictive states so interested in Colorado? An obvious answer is tourism. Unlike Washington and Oregon, which are tucked away in the northwest corner of the United States, Colorado is ideally situated closer to the middle of the country, making it an ideal location to visit. And despite the Colorado tourism director insisting that cannabis is not a major tourism draw for the state, both a state survey and our data suggest there’s definitely growing interest in checking out Colorado’s legal cannabis market.

Colorado is also becoming a more attractive place to live for a myriad of reasons. A number of people from illegal states, dubbed “marijuana refugees,” have migrated to Colorado for legal access to cannabis that can help treat themselves or their family members suffering from diseases. Young college graduates are also flocking to Colorado, and the real estate market has increased by double-digits post-legalization thanks in some part to a population boom and the cannabis industry producing more jobs (which means more people can afford to buy homes). It’s possible that in addition to tourist interest, pro-cannabis or cannabis-curious people who are considering moving to Colorado may be checking out the state’s dispensary pages to see what the legal market has to offer.

Washington

As with Colorado’s data, we analyzed the last three months’ worth of visits to Washington dispensary pages.

Out-of-state traffic to Washington dispensary pages on Leafly
Click on the image for a larger version

 

Nearly 40% of out-of-state visits to Washington dispensary pages come from California, with Oregon taking 2nd place with just over 14%. Both states’ proximity to Washington makes the data largely unsurprising, as it’s a relatively easy road trip or flight away for a quick getaway.

Another possible explanation for California’s traffic numbers is that there’s been a recent influx of people relocating from California to Washington. Between 2004 and 2013, over 339,000 moved from the Golden State to the Evergreen State. Washington’s recent tech industry boom, comparatively cheaper cost of living, and yes, legal cannabis are certainly all perks to moving further north.

Oregon

Oregon’s traffic data looks like a reversal of Washington’s, with over 39% of out-of-state traffic coming from its northern neighbor and 30% originating from California.

Out-of-state traffic to Oregon dispensary pages on Leafly
Click on the image for a larger version

Again, tourism is a likely factor here since Oregon is sandwiched between Washington and California, making it an appealing destination for a quick cannabis-friendly weekend getaway.

Business Takeaways

Why should dispensary owners and managers care about which out-of-state visitors are coming to their dispensaries? From a business perspective, it’s always an advantage to know your customers and their background so you can cater a personalized experience and convert their interest into a sale. Consider the following tips to help your business seem especially appealing to an out-of-towner:

Educate and Inform.

Out-of-state customers may need a little more education about cannabis, so offer more dedicated customer service and guidance to make your visitors feel at ease. Remember, they’re not experts and may even feel a little intimidated surrounded by a roomful of products that are still illegal in their state, so make them feel comfortable and be available to answer any questions they have. You may even want to put together a pamphlet or binder that contains some basic Cannabis 101 information that may benefit your out-of-state clientele.

Personalize the Experience.

Make your business seem appealing to a diverse pool of tourists or visitors. For example, if you have a retail dispensary in Colorado and know that a lot of people from Texas are likely to frequent your business, consider going the extra mile and work on your Texas charm – talk barbecue, Texas sports teams, local fashion, or anything that might put a smile on your visitor’s face. Or you could offer a few vanity strains, such as Cali Kush to a California native or Blue Bayou for someone hailing from Louisiana.

Offer Out-of-State-Friendly Products.

Pre-rolls are great for visitors since they might not have traveled with a vaporizer or bong, and lower-THC strains or edibles are a good idea as well for any tourists that are new to cannabis and don’t want to feel overwhelmed. (Just make sure you explain proper edibles dosing to your customers!)

Embrace Cannabis Tourism.

Colorado seems to be having an identity crisis with its cannabis tourism and doesn’t want to be cemented as the place to go for legal green. But honestly, what’s so bad about embracing the tourism angle? Sure, Washington, Colorado, and Oregon have a lot more to offer than just legal retail cannabis, but if the appeal of it brings visitors across state lines, it’s a win-win for the local economy. There’s a saying that goes “A rising tide lifts all ships,” meaning retail cannabis attracting visitors from different states brings in not just cannabis tax income, but benefits hotels, restaurants, local attractions, etc. So why not put a smile on your face and greet your out-of-state visitors with outstretched arms and an open mind? They’re bringing you business, after all!

Check out our previous Marketwatch analyses, and learn more about how Leafly can help grow your cannabis business.

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.