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Cannabis laws in Texas

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Medical: Very limited
Recreational: Illegal
Reciprocity: No

Texas is the largest state in the US without legal recreational cannabis or a large-scale medical cannabis program. 

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In recent years, lawmakers have eased up on a number of cannabis-derived formulations, and since 2015, people with epilepsy can obtain cannabis oil that contains less than 0.5% THC under the Texas Compassionate Use Act. 

In 2019, the list of qualifying conditions was expanded to also include all epileptic disorders, multiple sclerosis, and spasticity, as well as autism, terminal cancer, incurable neurodegenerative diseases, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). 

The state also legalized the manufacture, distribution, and sale of consumable hemp products in the state, including CBD oil, CBD gummy bears, food and drinks containing CBD and CBD topical lotions and cosmetics in 2019.

A ferris wheel in Dallas
Texas is the largest state in the US without legal recreational cannabis or a large-scale medical cannabis program. (Shutterstock)

How to get a medical card in Texas

Under House Bill 3703, cannabis products that contain less than 0.5% THC are legal for use by qualifying medical patients. These products can be prescribed to a resident of the state by a medical physician that is qualified “with respect to a patient’s particular medical condition.”

The presiding physician must first register as the prescriber for the patient in the compassionate-use registry maintained by the state of Texas. The physician is required to indicate the dosage, means of administration, and total amount of low-THC cannabis required to fill the prescription. 

There are currently three licensed medical marijuana dispensaries operating in Texas: Surterra Wellness, Fluent (formerly Cansortium Texas), and Compassionate Cultivation. The prescriptions can be obtained by pick up or delivery. 

Patients do not need to register with the state or pay a fee to access the medical cannabis program. 

The program allows legal guardians to pick up prescriptions for their children. 

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Smoking is not an approved method of using cannabis in Texas, and the new medical marijuana guidelines do not allow home cultivation.

Qualifying Conditions

In 2019, House Bill 3703 expanded the list of qualifying conditions to potential include well over a hundred conditions, including:

  • Epilepsy
  • A seizure disorder
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spasticity
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Autism
  • Terminal cancer
  • Parkinson’s Disease 
  • Cerebral Palsy 
  • A host of incurable neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzhemeimer’s

Where to Buy 

There are currently only three licensed medical cannabis providers in the state of Texas: Fluent, Compassionate Cultivation, and Surterra. All three allow in-person purchases and delivery.

Reciprocity

Prescriptions from other states cannot be filled in Texas. Patients must be permanent residents of Texas in order to qualify for the medical cannabis program. Texas Health and Safety Code §487.107 only allows the possession of low-THC cannabis that is acquired through a prescription from a physician registered with the Compassionate Use Program. 

What the future could hold for Texas cannabis laws 

Legalization advocates have expressed high hopes for the state’s 2021 legislative session, and a number of bills have been introduced. These include HB 43, which would expand the qualifying conditions to include anything that a doctor prescribes it for. It would also remove the THC limit on medical cannabis products. 

Texas Senate Bill 140 is far more ambitious, and includes comprehensive cannabis law reform. Introduced in March, 2021, the bill relates to the “regulation of the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, sale, testing, possession, and use of cannabis and cannabis products,” as well as the imposition of taxes and fees on cannabis products. The law would allow the possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and no more than 15 grams of concentrate, the cultivation for personal use of up to 12 cannabis plants, and the operation of retail cannabis establishments. 

Even if full legalization is highly unlikely in the near future for the Lone Star State, Texas has seen marijuana prosecutions drop significantly since lawmakers legalized hemp in 2019. Because hemp and cannabis flower are virtually impossible to differentiate with the naked eye, arresting officers must send the flower to a crime lab for testing if they hope to have a prosecutable case in court. This has led many state police departments to use costly private labs — or to decide that the cost of doing so is prohibitive, electing not to pursue charges.

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