How to Get Medical Marijuana in Texas
In 2015, the Texas Compassionate Use Act legalized the prescription of low-THC cannabis for patients with Intractable Epilepsy.
What is Intractable Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is disorder that is characterized by unpredictable seizures. Specifically in Texas, under the Compassionate Use Act, “Intractable Epilepsy” means the patient’s seizures have been treated by two or more appropriately chosen and maximally titrated anti-seizure drugs that have failed to control the seizures.
What does Texas consider low-THC cannabis?
“Low-THC cannabis” means the plant Cannabis sativa L., and any part of that plant or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, preparation, resin, or oil of that plant that contains:
(A) not more than 0.5% by weight of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); and
(B) not less than 10% by weight of cannabidiol (CBD).
It’s important to note that the Texas Occupations Code specifically prohibits smoking low-THC cannabis.
How does a patient qualify for the Texas Compassionate Use Program?
A patient may be prescribed low-THC cannabis if:
- A patient is a permanent resident of Texas,
- A patient is diagnosed with intractable epilepsy,
- The qualified physician determines the risk of the medical use of low-THC cannabis by a patient is reasonable in light of the potential benefit for the patient, and
- A second qualified physician has agreed with the determination. It is not necessary for the secondary physician to have contact with the patient. The primary physician can discuss the patient’s condition with secondary physician for approval. The secondary physician will need to provide their Compassionate Use Registry username to the primary physician. The primary physician will enter this information in the Compassionate Use Registry under the patient’s record.
There are several requirements for a physician to qualify to prescribe low-THC cannabis to a patient –
- be licensed,
- dedicate a significant portion of clinical practice to the evaluation and treatment of epilepsy, and
- be certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology or the American Board of Clinical Neurophysiology. And, more specifically, the physician has to be certified in either epilepsy, neurology, or neurophysiology.
The Texas Department of Public Safety does maintain a database of physicians registered with the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) System.
Now, once the qualified physician determines that the benefits of low-THC cannabis outweigh it’s risk, the qualified physician enters the patient’s information into the Compassionate Use Registry. The statute does not require patients to register or pay a fee. The patient information will be retained in the Compassionate Use Registry for access by law enforcement and dispensing organizations for the purpose of verifying a patient.
As of Dec. 2017, the Department of Public Safety has issued licenses to 3 dispensing organization: Cansortium Texas, Compassionate Cultivation, and Surterra Texas.
The law does not specifically address the licensing of low-THC cannabis testing labs, but the dispensing organizations are required to test products for the levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), and for
residual solvents, pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers, mold, and heavy metals, in accordance with applicable provisions of the Texas Agriculture Code and Texas Department of Agriculture’s administrative rules.
Know that the laws on medical marijuana are constantly changing. So, please check the Texas Department of Public Safety website for updates. I’ve included a link to the website below.