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In June of 2015, Governor Abbott signed SB 399, the Texas Compassionate Use Act. This law provided access to patients with severe epilepsy to cannabis with no more than 0.5 percent THC, and authorized dispensing organizations to cultivate, process, and distribute this medical cannabis. SB 399 also established a registered physician recommendation system, through which physicians not only assess a patient’s need for access but also provide recommended dosages that patients take to a dispensing organization to be filled. Oddly the language used in the law refers to these recommendations as prescriptions, which is a significant deviation from other state medical cannabis programs. Doctors may recommend that a patient use cannabis for treatment, but prescribing cannabis is averse to federal law which holds cannabis on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
Texas did not license its first cultivation facility until the fall of 2017, nearly two full years since the Governor signed SB 399 into law, and low THC product sales for patients did not begin until the spring of 2018 when the state licensed its first medical retail sales facility.
In May of 2019, Governor Abbott signed legislation adding several new conditions to the list of eligible health conditions required for patients to secure low-THC medical cannabis products. These conditions include epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, autism and spasticity.
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