The medical cannabis market in Texas has been gaining attention and experiencing notable developments in recent years. While Texas’ stance on cannabis remains stringent compared to some other states, significant progress has been made in expanding access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients. This article provides an overview of the current state of the medical cannabis market in Texas and a look at the state’s most recent cannabis business licensing round.
Current State of the Texas Medical Cannabis Market
The Texas Compassionate Use Program (TCUP) is a medical cannabis program implemented in Texas to provide access to low-THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) cannabis oil for patients with certain debilitating medical conditions. The program was established with the passage of the Texas Compassionate Use Act in 2015 and has been in effect since 2017. The medical cannabis program is overseen by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Regulatory Services Division (RSD).
Under the TCUP, patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy, a specific form of epilepsy that does not respond to traditional treatment methods, are eligible to participate. In 2019, the program was expanded to include patients with additional qualifying conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, spasticity, terminal cancer, autism, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), seizure disorders, and incurable neurodegenerative diseases.
As of June 2021, the Compassionate Use Program expanded the list of medical conditions to include all cancer diagnoses and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as qualifying conditions and raised the THC cap from 0.5% to 1% through the passage of HB 1525. Regulations can be read in full here.
Cannabis Business Licensing in Texas 2023
In 2023, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) accepted cannabis business license applications from January 13th to April 28th. The license type available was the Dispensing Organization License, which permits the cultivation, processing, and dispensing of cannabis. Unlike a designated limit, the DPS stated that they would issue licenses to all applicants who meet the necessary requirements. As of now, only three cannabis businesses are licensed in Texas.
Recently, the patient count for the medical cannabis program in Texas has dramatically risen, putting significant pressure on the existing three licensed cannabis businesses. The increased demand has made it challenging for these businesses to meet the needs of the growing patient population while the market waits for the additional cannabis business licenses to be awarded.
The legalization of adult-use cannabis in Texas remains uncertain, with no definitive timeline in place. However, a noteworthy development is the actions taken by various counties and cities within the state to reduce penalties and decriminalize cannabis possession and use. These local jurisdictions have recognized the need for more lenient approaches towards cannabis, leading to initiatives that aim to lessen the legal consequences associated with its possession and consumption. While statewide legalization is yet to be realized, these local efforts represent a growing trend towards a more progressive stance on cannabis within Texas.
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