Updated on June 16, 2021. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Texas has a medical marijuana program for patients, but it is different from other states. In Texas, there are not many qualifying health conditions. Getting medical cannabis in Texas can be difficult because of the strict laws.
In November of 2020, nine new legislation drafts were introduced to the Texas House of Representatives. The proposed laws included decriminalizing cannabis to reduce charges of possession to a fine instead of a misdemeanor or felony offense.
Decriminalization laws passed the House of Representatives and will move to the Texas Senate for review. It is the second time since 2019 that proposed rules have been sent to the Senate to decriminalize marijuana possession.
In 2021, three new qualifying health conditions were added in Texas to allow patients with chronic pain, cancer, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to be prescribed medical marijuana. However, these recommendations for the three new conditions will not take effect until September 1, 2021.
The medical cannabis laws in Texas are focused on compassionate care use only. That means only patients with severe chronic diseases or terminal illnesses have a chance at getting a Texas medical card. Currently, Texas does not allow patients with generalized anxiety disorders and other mental health symptoms like depression to become registered in the program.
The qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Texas are:
Intractable Epilepsy & Seizure Disorders
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Incurable Neurodegenerative Diseases
There are only three types of medical marijuana approved in Texas. Patients can be prescribed tinctures or drops (sublingual or oral uptake), tablets, or capsules. Unlike neighboring states like Oklahoma, edible cannabis and smokable varieties such as whole flower and vape cartridges are not available for patients registered in the CURT.
If you are a registered patient in Texas, you are only protected by law against possession charges if you use cannabis prescriptions. If you are found to have prohibited types of cannabis (smokable, edibles, concentrates, etc.), you can still be prosecuted by law. Or if you have THC products that exceed the Texas Department of Health (DOH) cap of 5%.
You won’t get a medical card. In the state of Texas, patients registered for medical marijuana are prescribed by a physician. And then, the prescription for the tincture, capsule, or tablet is filled by an approved pharmacy.
In Texas, medical marijuana is treated as a prescription medication. Once a patient has been approved, the physician writes a prescription. Only doctors registered with the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) can prescribe medical marijuana.
The physician that will assist you with your registry in the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) will automatically upload your prescription to the system. The patient will become certified by the doctor only if the physician feels that medical marijuana will offer a wellness benefit to the patient.
There is no cost to the patient to become registered in CURT. Unlike other states that charge a registration fee, Texas does not.
The first child patient received a prescription for medical marijuana in Texas in 2018. Just two years after Governor Greg Abbott passed laws to legalize prescription marijuana in Texas. At the time, the only accepted medical conditions were intractable epilepsy and terminal illnesses.
Parents and legal guardians over twenty-one (21) years can apply on behalf of the minor in the care. And help the child become registered in CURT to receive legalized medical marijuana.
There is no special status for parents or guardians in Texas to become a caregiver for a minor. In other states, each caregiver would have to be twenty-one (21) years or older. And registered with their card in the medical marijuana program. But Texas bypasses the need for a caregiver by certifying physicians (including pediatricians) to prescribe medical marijuana.
There is no medical card in Texas. However, the patient profile saved in the CURT must be updated annually. At the time of writing (June 2021), there is no renewal fee for medical marijuana patients.
Since there is no marijuana card in Texas, there is no risk of losing one or getting a replacement card. Your patient profile is updated electronically in CURT. All you have to do is make sure that you renew your registration in the Compassionate Use Program (CUP) on time every year.
The Texas physician will enter the patients’ prescription into the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT). After that happens, the patient can go to any specially licensed pharmacy dispensary.
To purchase cannabis, patients or caregivers will need to provide photo identification, the patient’s last name, date of birth, and the last five digits of the patient’s social security number.
El Paso, Texas, was the first city in 1915 to restrict cannabis. By 1931, possession of cannabis was banned across Texas; since the 1970s law possession, Texas has become a state with some of the harshest laws when it comes to possession of marijuana.
By June 2015, Governor Greg Abbott legalized medical marijuana in the state of Texas. With big restrictions. Senate Bill 339, “The Texas Compassionate Use Act,” permitted the use of low-THC cannabis oil (tinctures) of 0.50% for the exclusive treatment of epilepsy.
Patients in Texas do not get issued a medical card like in other states. When a certified physician has prescribed medical marijuana to a patient in Texas, the doctor adds the prescription to the CURT system electronically. This includes information about the type of medical cannabis (tablet, capsule, or tincture drops) and the recommended THC potency (now up to 5%).
A medical card is not issued, but getting a health evaluation from a licensed and board-certified marijuana doctor in Texas is relatively easy. Provided that you have one or more of the diagnosed qualifying health conditions.
Texas is one of the states with a medical cannabis program that allows for telemedicine. That is good news for patients who have mobility issues or who want to conduct their cannabis health check from home. If you have an internet connection, you can schedule an appointment with a Texas marijuana doctor to complete your health evaluation.
In the session of the 87th legislature in Texas, there were just over sixty (60) bills that pertained to medical marijuana and legalization. Unfortunately, by June 2021, only two of those 60+ laws had made it to Gov. Abbott’s desk and the Senate.
Advocates for medical cannabis reform in Texas are excited by how some of the measures are being reviewed and passed. When it comes to medical cannabis programs, there are many limitations for patients in Texas.
Some of the new laws will address social equity, access care, an expansion for more qualifying health conditions, and more. However, industry experts believe that amendments may take several years to address the new proposed laws.
June 2019 – HB 1325 is signed into law authorizing the regulatory program be developed for cultivation and sale of hemp and hemp related products. Texas Department of Agriculture will oversee and be responsible for the administration and development of the legislation. On June HB 3703 is signed into law, approving more medical conditions eligible for Low-THC Medical Cannabis as well as increasing eligible physicians. HB 1365, which decriminalizes marijuana, was also passed in the House but has not been heard in the Senate.
June 2018 — a series of planks at the Republican Party of Texas convention was voted on regarding cannabis policy reform. Among the changes approved were:
Reducing cannabis personal use possession to a civil, not a criminal offense for one ounce of marijuana or less. Punishable by a fine of up to $100 without jail time.
Call to improve the 2015 Compassionate Use Act to give doctors the power to recommend the appropriate use of cannabis for patients with severe health conditions.
A plank calling for Congress to remove cannabis from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act. This proposal passed with 82% of the vote.
A plank asking for legislation to allow cultivation, manufacturing, and sale of industrial hemp and hemp products. This plank received 83% support at the convention.
2018 – Federal Farm Bill of 2018 allows individual states ti regulate hemp and hemp related products including CBD, through a state’s department of agriculture. After regulatory plans are submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop the regulatory program. This is the only way that hemp-derived products are legal under federal law.
Also, in 2018, the Democratic Party of Texas passed similar votes at their political convention. The first Marijuana Lobby Day was held in Austin in 2011, and it continues to grow annually with supporters of cannabis reform.
2017 – Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (2017) goes live on September 1st. Qualified physicians are able to use the system to register with DPS and to recommend low-THC cannabis to intractable epilepsy patients.
2015 – Texas legislature enacts HB892, the Compassionate Use Act. Allows patients suffering from intractable epilepsy to utilize CBD & Low THC oil as an alternative treatment method. It’s sister bill is SB 339,
Source Web 2021: guides.sll.texas.gov
There have been efforts among some state legislators to take a common-sense approach to expanding access to medical marijuana in Texas.
Bills have been introduced to not only increase the number of qualifying conditions, but also to expand the types of marijuana that will be available.
However, as long as Texas government continues to be dominated by hardline conservatives who refuse to consider the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, it is extremely doubtful that any real progress can be made.