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How to Support Responsible Cannabis Legalization Efforts in Texas

By Shawn Hauser

Mar 23, 2021

As we move closer to federal legalization, the great state of Texas remains an untapped major market—ripe for reform, but hard to move. The Texas Compassionate Use Act (one of the most limited programs in the country) has many shortcomings, including but not limited to:

  • Limited eligible conditions: only allows intractable epilepsy or a small number of other conditions

  • Requires patients to obtain prescriptions from two doctors

  • Permits only non-smokable cannabis products with no more than 0.5% THC

  • Currently, only three licensed businesses are permitted to sell to patients

With a difficult political climate, an energy crisis, and a short and crowded pandemic legislative session, the stakes are high in the Lone Star State.

However, with Mexico and surrounding states moving towards legalization, criminal justice reform and public health at the top of hearts and minds, plus the potential for more than $1.1 billion in tax revenue and a historic amount of cannabis legislation in the state, change is possible in 2021. Not only is it possible in 2021—it’s critical because the legislature will not convene again until 2023. Texas has 36 congressional delegates, so the evolution of state leadership on cannabis policy could mean a lot for the success of federal legislation.

Much is going on in Texas. Here are some cannabis bills to watch and opportunities to get involved:   

  • Attend Texas Marijuana Policy Virtual Lobby Day on March 29, 2021 – Register here before March 28!

  • Contact VS to get involved in the Texas Cannabis Council

  • Support Reform Efforts and Legislation

  • Track all Texas cannabis and hemp-related bills here

    • Of note, SB 1778 and HB 3948 were recently filed. The companion bills would establish a hemp research program and address consumable hemp products, along with cleaning up some language in the statute.

  • In August 2020, the Texas Department of State Health Services adopted an administrative rule banning the sale of smokable hemp products in Texas. The regulations were challenged by several companies who filed a lawsuit to overturn the state’s ban, resulting in a temporary injunction of the rule. A hearing was held on March 22, 2021.

To learn about current Texas cannabis laws, policy recommendations, and the potential size of the medical cannabis market, read VS’s report, “Medical Cannabis in Texas: Policy Recommendations for Improving the Compassionate Use Program.”

For a look into the potential sales projects, tax revenue, and criminal justice savings of legalizing cannabis in the Lone Star State, watch “Economics of a Regulated Cannabis Market,” an on-demand seminar from Foundation for an Informed Texas.


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