Starting Wednesday, a medical marijuana dispensary will set up a temporary site to fill prescriptions in Plano.
The company, Texas Original Compassionate Cultivation, is also adding temporary dispensary sites in Houston, Katy and San Antonio.
Texas allows for low-level THC products like oils and sprays to be sold with a prescription - written by a doctor registered with the state’s Compassionate Use program.
The medical marijuana cannot be smoked and the products cannot contain a THC level higher than .5%. By comparison, hemp products are limited to .3%.
“This isn't about getting high,” said Compassionate Cultivation CEO Morris Denton. “It's about getting healthy. It's about getting well.”
Denton says Texas law does not allow the company to store product outside of its Austin-area headquarters, so temporary dispensaries, set up for a few hours at a time are the next step to reach patients in North Texas. According to the company, it fills prescriptions for 230 patients in Plano alone.
The temporary dispensary is set up in a doctor’s office. The address is private and shared with patients who have approved prescriptions to fill.
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“We make it very specific and we make sure that each patient that we're going to meet knows we're going to meet them and knows when to be there,” Denton explained.
Annette Garcia of Frisco says her son uses two types of tinctures to help treat his epilepsy. Before three brain surgeries and other treatments, Garcia says her 13-year-old suffered up to 150 seizures a day.
“A seizure hits, you have to just act, you don’t have time to be scared or frustrated. You just have to help your child,” Garcia said.
Garcia says the medical marijuana treatment comes in the form of drops taken orally.
Starting Wednesday, Garcia will have the option to fill his prescription locally – rather than arrange for long-distance delivery.
“You can’t just go to CVS and pick it up. It has to be a planned thing,” Garcia said.
Advocates of medical marijuana say Texas lawmakers should expand the medical marijuana program.
Governor Greg Abbott signed the Texas Compassionate Use Act in 2015, allowing people with epilepsy to have cannabis oil.
In 2019, lawmakers expanded the program to include other conditions: a seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism, terminal cancer or an incurable neurodegenerative disease.
Colt DeMorris, of El Paso, tells NBC 5 he crosses the New Mexico border to purchase medical marijuana to help treat PTSD – a condition that does not qualify for medical marijuana treatment in Texas.
“There’s a dispensary that’s not even 20 minutes away,” said DeMorris.
“Although I am able to access and purchase legally, it is illegal for me to bring it back to Texas and medicate in my home and my home state,” DeMorris added.
DeMorris, who lost his wife to cervical cancer in 2016, says patients should not have to risk criminal prosecution to access medical marijuana in Texas.
“I think the idea of the temporary spots opening up is good. It will allow those patients who do qualify for the program to have easier access, but we need places all over Texas,” said DeMorris. “We need a full, comprehensive program. Not something so limited.”