Texas issues first license for medical marijuana

- Texas has issued its first medical marijuana license, and two more companies are expected to be awarded licenses soon.

Cansortium Texas, which is a part of Florida-based Cansortium Holdings, received a license Friday, the Austin American-Statesman reported . The company will be allowed to grow, process and sell medical marijuana for patients with a rare form of epilepsy.

Cansortium Holdings Chief Executive Officer Jose Hidalgo said he's humbled the company received the license. The company has medical cannabis licenses in Florida, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico.

The state Department of Public Safety is reviewing applications from Compassionate Cultivation and Surterra Texas.

The companies were selected from more than 40 applicants in May and have undergone a series of facility inspections. They face strict state regulations that restrict their customer base and how they formulate the products.

Licenses are being issued under the Texas Compassionate Use Act, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law in 2015. The act legalized the production and sale of cannabidoil, an oil that doesn't produce a high. The law only allows patients with intractable epilepsy to use the oil. Patients must have a doctor's prescription and have already tried two conventional drug treatments that weren't effective.

"It is safe to say that it is a challenging market," said Morris Denton, chief executive of Compassionate Cultivation.

Denton said he hopes to eventually persuade state lawmakers to make medical marijuana available to a wider group of people.

The three companies will pay a nearly $490,000 fee once they're approved. They'll have to renew the license in two years for nearly $320,000. The fees cover the cost of regulating the industry, state officials said.

Industry experts believe relaxing the restrictions and making medical marijuana more widely available could allow the Texas market to rival California's estimated $2.8 billion cannabis market.

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com

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