(TNS) — Employees from Compassionate Cultivation have driven their fleet of Priuses to nearly every corner of Texas to hand-deliver bottles of medical marijuana.
But at nearby gas stations, smoothie shops and convenience stores, Texans can find products with different ingredients and dubious legality that go by the same name. With a swipe of a credit card or a wad of cash, they can buy CBD products and walk out the door.
A flood of unregulated cannabis products is one of the challenges facing Texas’ three medical marijuana companies pioneering a new state industry and trying to turn a profit. As lawmakers meet in Austin for this year’s legislative session, the companies want the state to expand the program and crack down on unregulated cannabis products they see as threatening their businesses and the public.
“I’m not usually one to talk about more regulation, but this is a patient safety matter,” said Marcus Ruark, president of Surterra Texas, one of three companies licensed to grow in Texas. “In this case, this is really important.”
If lawmakers don’t make changes, said Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, they risk putting Texas’ fledgling medical marijuana industry out of business.
“It’s unacceptable for the state to have invested so much and rolled the companies out, if we are just going to allow it to go by the wayside,” she said.
A growing industry
Texas established a limited medical marijuana program — and paved the way for the state’s cannabis businesses — when it passed the Compassionate Use Act in 2015. The law required the Texas Department of Public Safety to issue licenses to at least three companies by September 2017. Licensees