Sometime next month, Compassionate Cultivation, one of three Texas companies licensed to grow cannabis under 2015's Compassionate Use Act, is going to roll out its first batch of cannibidiol oil, the low-THC medicine allowed under the law to patients with intractable epilepsy. It will do so despite uncertainty about federal enforcement against marijuana, medical and otherwise, thanks to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to rescind an Obama administration policy that prevented federal law enforcement from enforcing federal marijuana laws that conflicted with state laws.
"We're staying the course," Morris Denton, CEO of Compassionate Cultivation, says. "We're focused on making the highest quality-medicine out to people with intractable epilepsy. We view Sessions' actions as being more about what's happening in other states than what's happening in Texas."
Over the past half-decade or so, marijuana laws across the country have been liberalized, and several states — most recently, California — have legalized recreational marijuana use. Thanks to a bill passed by the Vermont Senate, seemingly in response to Sessions' decision last week, the state could become the first to legalize recreational pot through legislation rather than through a ballot measure.
Texas remains stuck in the dark ages with low-THC oil as the state's only legal cannibidiol product, but the state has crept closer during the Legislature's last two sessions to passing laws expanding medical marijuana or decriminalizing minor possession. The stage is set for major change in Texas if action is taken at the federal level.
"I think that what he's done could be an impetus for change," Denton says. "It could be a spark. Ultimately, what needs to happen is that Congress needs to change the law. This action may be that spark that creates that."
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If Texas' laws become more liberal, Denton says his company will consider growing and manufacturing a wider range of cannabis products. Until then, he says, Compassionate Cultivation will remain in strict compliance with state law, if not federal prohibition.
"We're operating a legal business in the state of Texas under rules adopted by the Legislature," Denton says. "We're under the regulation and are complying with the [Texas] Department of Public Safety, which is the law enforcement in the state of Texas. We're comfortable working."
Denton's company is putting the finishing touches on its first cannabis crop, planted in September, which he expects to harvest next week.
"We're a couple of weeks away from having medicine available," Denton says. "We're narrowing in on it, and we'll have an announcement in the next couple of weeks. It will be early February, but I'm not ready to say Feb. 1 or Feb. 8 yet because of the growing process and the [CBD] extraction and the timing associated with it. This being our first harvest — we're going to harvest on Jan. 19 — and then it takes one to two weeks after that to dry out, to go through extraction, go through testing before being [made into CBD oil]."