Several bills to reform Texas’ cannabis laws have been introduced during the 2021 session.
These pieces of legislation range from expanding the state’s current low-THC medical cannabis program to legalizing, taxing, and regulating cannabis for adults 21 and older. Another proposal would decriminalize possession of up to one ounce of cannabis.
Some of these bills are gaining traction in the House of Representatives. House committees have approved both a bill to decriminalize possession of up to one ounce of cannabis (HB 441), and a bill that would expand Texas’ current low-THC medical cannabis program by allowing more qualifying conditions and increasing the THC cap for medical cannabis products from 0.03 percent to 5 percent (HB 1535).
Texas is now one of only 14 states with no effective medical cannabis law, and one of only 19 that still imposes jail time for simple possession of cannabis. Make sure your lawmakers know this issue matters to voters; ask them to support cannabis policy reform in the 2021 session!
Texas launches low-THC medical marijuana program, but few can participate
In early 2018, the first sales of low-THC medical cannabis began in Texas, pursuant to the Compassionate Use Program. While the program is surely helping some patients, it is flawed, extremely limited, and leaves most patients behind.
Initially, only patients who suffered from serious seizure conditions could participate, leaving behind a huge number of Texans who suffer from other conditions, including cancer, PTSD, and many who will otherwise have to rely on opioid-based medicine. While the law was improved somewhat in 2019, when additional qualifying conditions were added, major flaws remain.
The law unnecessarily puts physicians at risk: State law requires physicians to write prescriptions for marijuana products, yet prescriptions for cannabis are clearly illegal under federal law, placing doctors at potential risk.
As noted, it is also limited to very low-THC cannabis.
Finally, the state approved only three companies to operate medical cannabis businesses in the entire state. Each serves as cultivator, processor, and dispensary for those patients in Texas who qualify.