In 2015, Texas surprised the nation by passing SB 339, the Texas Compassionate Use Act, a bill that would allow CBD oils for Texas residents with intractable epilepsy, seizure disorders that fail to respond to any conventional medical treatments. This bill made Texas the largest southern state to approve of medical cannabis, albeit under extremely restrictive circumstances.
Under SB 339, patients may possess cannabis that contains less than 0.5 percent THC and at least 10 percent CBD. The cannabis that meets these criteria could be considered hemp, although the federal government’s definition for hemp is less than 0.3 percent THC with no limits on the other cannabinoids. Patients in Texas are not permitted to smoke cannabis for any reason; the law only protects non-smokable routes such as gel caps.
In addition, patients may not cultivate or manufacture their own cannabis products. All medical cannabis products must be grown, processed, and distributed from approved facilities, and that’s where the problem with Texas’s medical weed begins: only three licenses have been approved, and two of those licenses are for dispensaries in Austin. Patients who live far away from these facilities are expected to drive to the dispensaries to pick up the cannabis products themselves, or to do so through a state-registered caregiver.
There’s also the issue of doctors assigning cannabis to patients in Texas. All doctors who do this must register on a state database, where cannabis “prescriptions” and their dosages are logged and tracked. Because Texas’s “prescription” system mimics the federal pharmaceutical