“When we got our provisional license on May 1, we basically won that provisional license on an application that was just 300+ pages of dreams,” Compassionate Cultivation CEO Morris Denton tells me Friday morning, standing outside one of the flower rooms at CC’s medical marijuana facility. There’s an excitement in the air as CC”s cultivation team moves back and forth from the room to a nearby scale, making notes on the company’s first harvest, a little over two and a half months after their first planting.
“It’s a historic day for us, for Texas, for Texans, for those people that have been long waiting for this medicine,” Denton says, somehow still managing to undersell what’s taking place in front of us. While public opinion nationwide now favors some sort of pot legalization, even as recently as five years ago the average Texan would have laughed at the idea that medical marijuana would come to Texas within the next decade. While the Compassionate Use Act isn’t as sweeping as what other states across the nation have, it’s still a step in what many see as the right direction.
Back on October 31, the same day they received their dispensing organization license, Compassionate Cultivation planted their first seeds. Then came the hard, slow work of growing the pot plants into something that can be turned into cannibidiol oil.
“Every single day is stressful. It’s a sturdy, hardy plant, generally speaking, but it’s still a plant,” Denton says of the last few weeks. “We work a seven day a week schedule. We have a very purposefully, specifically designed facility in order to nurture the plant’s growth.”
Things accelerate for the company from here. The next step for the plants after harvest is to be dried and processed, becoming the medicine that will, in theory, help those Texas suffering from intractable epilepsy. When the cannibidiol oil is ready, the dispensary wing of the company will open its doors, and those with prescriptions will be able to get the medicine either at Compassionate Cultivation or have it delivered. With only three dispensing organization licenses having been granted in the state, the company has a lot of ground to cover.
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While there’s a law on the books and things are well regulated, when they first opened the door to the flower room and I saw the plants with my own eyes I’ll confess that I almost didn’t believe it. I’ve never smoked weed — never been high at all if I’m revealing how tragically uncool I am — but seeing the four foot tall plants reaching for the ceiling felt special. While I still believe the fight for broader medical marijuana legislation in Texas is still an uphill battle, not to mention Jeff Sessions looming federally, I can’t deny that seeing Texans growing marijuana legally finally made it sink in that the game has changed in the Lone Star State. Unsurprisingly, Compassionate Cultivation feels the weight of Texas on their shoulders.
“We’re dedicated to creating the highest quality, consistent medicine and to be transparent in how we operate our business and to run our business with integrity,” Denton said. “We want to do nothing except make Texans proud.”
While on this day there is plenty of laughter and smiles to go around, the hard work continues for Compassionate Cultivation. There are calls and emails to field from patients across the state, plants to be processed and finishing the final prep for the dispensary itself. While the dream isn’t quite a reality yet, Denton can see it on the horizon.
“There are people that were refugees in other states that are now able to come back to Texas because this medicine is available,” he said. “Once we see the impact of it, that’s when I’ll know it was worth the struggle, it was worth the difficulty, it was worth the investment.”