In 2015, Texas passed a law allowing a very limited group of patients in the state to obtain “low-THC cannabis” from licensed dispensaries pursuant to a doctor’s prescription. This rather narrow law required the Texas Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) to create a secure registry of physicians who treat epilepsy for the purpose of prescribing low-THC cannabis to Texas patients who have been diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. In 2017, only three dispensaries in the state were licensed under this program.

In the recent 2019 legislative session, the Texas Legislature slightly expanded this program by enacting House Bill 3703, which provides roughly 7 additional medical conditions for which low-THC cannabis may be prescribed; however, this new law does not increase the THC limit of “low-THC cannabis” (i.e., 0.5% THC) nor does it permit the smoking of low-THC cannabis. A prescription from a qualifying physician is still required under the new version of the law.

DPS has indicated that the Compassionate Use Registry has undergone the modifications necessary to allow the registration of physicians with additional specialties and to allow prescriptions for the additional conditions. As a result of this new law, low-THC cannabis may now be prescribed to patients diagnosed with (1) epilepsy; (2) a seizure disorder; (3) multiple sclerosis; (4) spasticity; (5) amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; (6) autism; (7) terminal cancer; or (8) an incurable neurodegenerative disease. The qualified physician must determine the risk of the medical use of low-THC cannabis by a patient is reasonable in light of the potential benefit.

As the list of medical conditions has increased under the Compassionate Use Program, DPS has indicated it anticipates an increase in demand for low-THC cannabis. Consequently, DPS has published on its website that dispensary applications will be accepted from October 1, 2019, to November 1, 2019.

The number of applicants to be conditionally approved will be based on DPS’ assessment of the top applicants’ production capabilities and resources, as well as any additional data that may become available on patient numbers and demand for low-THC cannabis. Following completion of all licensure requirements, passage of all background checks, and a showing of significant progress toward cultivation and production readiness, the licenses will be issued.

The application checklist and scoring criteria can be found here:

Applications will be accepted by DPS until November 1, 2019.

If you are interested in discussing opportunities in Texas by applying for licensure under the recently expanded Texas Compassionate Use Program, please contact us.