Policy Recommendations Texas

2019-2020 Improvements and Recommendations for Texas

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. Previously, only patients experiencing intractable epilepsy were permitted access. Following the 2018 passage of the federal Farm Bill authorizing a nationwide hemp production program under USDA, Governor Abbott signed legislation in 2019 allowing in-state production of hemp for industrial and medical purposes. This will allow Texas to license a greater volume of CBD producers and deliver greater product quantity and diversity for qualifying Texas patients.

Like many states in 2020, Texas was forced to turn away from legislative cannabis policy reform improving patient access to turn to emergency measures related to the global pandemic. Unlike many other states, Texas did not deem its limited, low-THC medical program, and associated commercial businesses, essential. However, patients were still able to maintain access via delivery, as Texas maintains the same standards as USDA for hemp-derived CBD products.

Texas still has significant work to do to organize functional patient access to cannabis products containing THC and other plant compounds. ASA encourages lawmakers to approve comprehensive medical cannabis policy legislation in 2021, that includes authorization of commercial cannabis businesses cultivating, manufacturing, testing, distributing and retailing medical cannabis. Other key components should provide patient legal protections for possession and use as well as for employment, remove arbitrary limits on THC and either expand the list of qualifying conditions to include chronic pain, or remove the list in favor of a system that permits patients to secure access based on a physician's evaluation.