Updated on July 5, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
When Governor Greg Abbott signed off on SB 339 in June 2015, the Texas medical marijuana program was created — such as it is. The program is extremely limited and, critics say, unworkable. It allows only people suffering from severe epilepsy to participate, and they only have access to cannabidiol (CBD) oil that is extremely low in THC content. The medicinal cannabis available in Texas can have no more than 0.5 percent THC, according to the Texas Occupations Code Sec 169.001.
But there are several other facets of the program that make it very disappointing to advocates of medical cannabis. The law requires that doctors must first join a registry before they can recommend CBD to their patients. They must provide information such as the dosages they recommend, how those dosages will be administered and how much cannabis is needed to fulfill the patient’s needs.
To qualify for the program, a patient must be a Texas resident who has been diagnosed with severe epilepsy. He or she must go to a doctor who devotes a substantial amount of practice to epilepsy diagnosis and treatment, and the doctor must be certified in either neurology or epilepsy by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. The patient must also have received at least two traditional treatments for seizures, and it must be shown that those treatments were not effective.
As legislation changes in Texas, check back to this section for information about how those legislative changes will affect the prospect of medical marijuana in Texas.
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.
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.
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,
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.