A 2023 poll shows 83 percent of Texans support medical cannabis and 60 percent support full legalization. However, due to an absent process for citizen-initiated measures, Texas must rely on its lawmakers to legalize cannabis. Currently, there are only four states with more stringent laws regarding cannabis than Texas. Further, there are only seven states total that only allow CBD oil usage. Is cannabis legal in Texas? No. Is it on the way? Let’s review the available information.
Is cannabis legal in Texas?
Cannabis laws in Texas fall under the state’s Compassionate Use Program (CUP), which allows certain physicians to prescribe low-THC cannabis for medical purposes. This low-THC product must come from the plant Cannabis Sativa L. Additionally, all parts of the plant and any resulting compounds, salts, resins, oils and derivatives may not contain more than 0.5 percent by weight of THC.
Prescribed low-THC cannabis may only be consumed by swallowing. Each patient must also be a permanent resident and utilize a CUP-registered physician. The list of medical conditions allowed by CUP to be treated with low-THC cannabis are:
- Seizure disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Terminal cancer
- An incurable neurodegenerative disease
Texas cannabis legalization
HB 218, filed by Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso, aimed to reduce the penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis and concentrates. Although the bill received bipartisan support and passed in the House, it died in the Senate. Moody also filed HB 3652, which would have paved the way for Texas cannabis legalization and allowed adults 21 and older to use, possess and transport up to two and a half ounces of cannabis. Although it did not progress, this session was the first where such a bill directly amending Texas cannabis laws received a hearing.
Lubbock Republican Sen. Charles Perry submitted SB 264, which would have banned synthetic hemp-derived THC isomers such as delta-8 and delta-9. The bill did not make it out of committee.
“Two good things did come out: We didn’t move backward, as would have happened with the isomer ban under [SB] 264 by Perry,” Daryoush Austin Zamhariri, creator and chief editor of the Fort Worth-based Texas Cannabis Collective news site said. “Also, we made history by getting Joe Moody’s retail cannabis bill in committee. A bill like this has never been heard in a Texas committee and forced the Legislative Budget Board to provide a forecasting document on what full legalization might look like. It shows Texas (in its own analysis) losing hundreds of millions of dollars through taxes over a projected five-year time period — losing money by not implementing a retail market.”
Current Texas cannabis laws
The good news for the Lone Star state is that delta-8 is temporarily legal, following a difficult battle between state lawmakers and delta-8 vendors. In September 2021, Texas lawmakers attempted to ban delta-8 products with HB 2593, which would have limited the quantity of all tetrahydrocannabinol to 0.3%, making it near-impossible to produce effective delta-8 THC products. This bill failed to pass, however, more than a month later, the Texas Department of State Health Service (DSHS) updated its website to claim delta-8 is an illegal controlled substance prohibited within the state. Austin-based delta-8 vendor Hometown Hero sued the DSHS and asked for an injunction. In November 2021, the court granted Hometown Hero’s application for a temporary injunction, placing delta-8 as legal for now.
Delta-9 is also legal in Texas, as well as delta-10 and THC-O. These products are considered weaker than delta-8. Delta 10 and THC-O are both synthetically produced. Delta-9 and delta-10 are supposed to be more psychoactive options. Yet another option is THC-A (or THCa). Considered a close experience to recreational cannabis, it is legal in Texas as it naturally occurs in the hemp plant. It is not psychoactive but turns into delta-9 when heated. Zachary Maxwell, president of Texas Hemp Growers, recommends caution for manufacturers, retailers and consumers dealing with THCa, as various ways of testing may produce differing allowances in THC levels. Possession quickly becomes illegal if the percentage is higher than the state allows. He suggests people buy only products with test results showing 0.3 percent or less total THC.
When will cannabis be legal in Texas?
Texas cannabis may be an unknown for now, but thankfully, two neighbors are close by with experience in both medical and recreational markets. Be prepared to make connections and learn from industry experts in cultivation, innovation, education, business and legal advice, retail insights, extraction technology, scientific and financial trends, marketing, branding and so much more at CannaCon. CannaCon is an efficient way to network with like-minded entrepreneurs who are also building bold, new industries in the United States. Get CannaCon tickets today!
This article was originally published Aug. 10, 2021. It was updated Aug. 22, 2023.