A six-year-old girl suffering from a rare form of epilepsy received an order of Texas-produced medical cannabis on Thursday morning, marking the official opening of the state’s highly restricted but much-anticipated market for the treatment that’s derived from a non-psychoactive extract of marijuana.
Cansortium Texas, a division of Florida-based Cansortium Holdings, announced the first delivery from its dispensary in Schulenburg. The company didn’t release additional details about the patient who received it, citing privacy issues.
“The wait for medical cannabis is finally over” for Texas patients suffering from what’s known as intractable epilepsy, said José Hidalgo, founder and chief executive of Cansortium Holdings. “This is a historic day for Texas and we will work tirelessly to uphold the trust and responsibility the state has placed in” the company.
Cansortium operates under the brand Knox Medical.
Last fall, it received the first license from the Texas Department of Public Safety to grow, process and sell a form of non-psychoactive medical cannabis in the state to people with a doctor’s prescription and suffering from intractable epilepsy — defined as patients for whom two mainstream seizure drugs have proved ineffective.
The Epilepsy Foundation Texas has pegged the number of Texans with intractable epilepsy at about 150,000.
Compassionate Cultivation, located in the Austin metro area at 12701 Lowden Lane in Manchaca, received the second license shortly thereafter. Compassionate Cultivation has announced a grand opening for its dispensary next Thursday, when it will have products available for sale to qualifying epilepsy patients in the state.
A third dispensary — Surterra Texas, a division of Atlanta-based Surterra Wellness — didn’t receive its Texas license enabling it to start growing a crop until Dec. 15 and hasn’t said when it expects to have finished products available. Surterra Texas is at 6912 Hergotz Lane in Austin, according to DPS.
The three dispensaries have been licensed under the 2015 Texas Compassionate Use Act to produce and sell cannabidiol, known as CBD, which is an oil extracted from cannabis plants that doesn’t produce a high. CBD has shown promise in treating a variety of ailments, but the Texas law only allows products made by the Texas dispensaries to be sold to people suffering from intractable epilepsy.
The CBD oil produced and sold under the Texas law can contain up to 0.5 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the chemical in marijuana that produces a high. For comparison, marijuana for recreational purposes generally contains from 9 percent to more than 30 percent THC.
A number of products that advertise CBD oil as ingredients are available in Texas without prescriptions, but they’re produced by out-of-state companies and contain at most trace levels of THC, generally considered to be 0.3 percent or less. In addition, an academic study in 2015 found that medical marijuana products made in some states often didn’t contain the amount of ingredients claimed on their labels.