Texans may be able to buy medical cannabis oil as soon as January

Christopher Pate, chief production officer of Glass House Grown, a licensed cannabis provider in the state of Oregon that produces medical cannabis, holds a tray with marijuana Thursday, May 12, 2016, that he produced--a cross of DJ Short Blueberry and Afghan Kush in Redmond, Ore., on property he and his wife bought less than a year ago to grow marijuana. Dozens of communities and about half of Oregon's counties have banned recreational pot shops as allowed under state law, but a group of pot activists are asking voters in two counties on May 17 to overturn the opt-outs. More communities and counties will be voting on similar measures in the general election in November. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)

Medicinal cannabis oil could be on the market in Texas by January 2018. The three eligible statewide dispensaries could receive approval from the Texas Department of Public Safety to begin growing and distributing marijuana by September 1. At that point, the dispensaries — Surterra Texas, Cansortium Texas and Compassionate Cultivation — would have completed the cultivation and processing required to produce medicinal cannabis oil.

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the Texas Compassionate Use Act in 2015. The law allows for at least three dispensaries to “cultivate, process and dispense low-THC cannabis to prescribed patients.” The law also restricts the use of low-THC cannabis to “patients who have been diagnosed with intractable epilepsy.”

RELATED: Texas legalizes medical marijuana for epilepsy patients

Critics have attacked the narrow definition of the law, as it limits the strains growers can use to those with low concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC (the chemical that gets users “high”) and high concentrations of cannabidiol, or CBD, which acts as a muscle relaxant and central nervous system depressant.

“We were very disappointed in how unreasonably restrictive the Compassionate Use Act was written,” said Heather Fazio, a spokesperson for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. “We’re grateful it was intended for some people to have access to some type of cannabis, but science shows [medical cannabis oil] can help countless Texans suffering from PTSD, multiple sclerosis and severe pain.”

Adam Sharon, the communications director for Cansortium Texas, also spoke out on the scope of the law.

“Texas took a very narrow, specific approach focused on epilepsy patients only — which is indicative of the state.”

RELATED: Family Thinks Medicinal Cannabis Will Help Son’s Crohn’s Disease.

The law also limits the number of dispensaries that can sell the cannabis oil. With only three dispensaries in the largest state in the Continental U.S., some patients and their families must also travel hundreds of miles to get the medication they need. The Compassionate Use Act does not yet offer provisions to expand the number of dispensaries across the state.

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