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Frequently Asked Legal Questions

Find answers to common questions in our searchable FAQ.

5022 views   |   4   |   Last updated on Mar 06, 2020    Criminal Law

The library receives many questions about cannabidiol oil, also known as CBD oil. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a substance derived from the cannabis plant that does not have the psychoactive properties that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) does.The legality of CBD is still unclear. For more information on this topic, please see the Cannabidiol (CBD) page of our Cannabis and the Law research guide.

There have been recent changes in both federal and Texas law on CBD. H.R.2 Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 is often referred to as the "2018 Farm Bill" and became law on December 20th, 2018. This federal law defines hemp as cannabis with a THC concentration of less than 0.3% by dry weight and removes it from the federal controlled substances schedules.

House Bill 1325 passed during the 86th Regular Session in Texas and was signed by the governor on June 10th, 2019. This bill created Subtitle F within Title 5 of the Texas Agricultural Code, which regulates the growth of industrial hemp containing less than 0.3% THC content on a dry weight basis.

Texas law also allows for medical use of low-THC cannabis (less than 0.5% THC) for certain qualified patients under the Compassionate-Use Act. Chapter 487 of the Texas Health and Safety Code establishes requirements for licensing and registration of dispensaries that provide low-THC cannabis, and Chapter 169 of the Occupations Code sets out who may prescribe low-THC cannabis to certain patients. House Bill 3703 recently expanded the law to include more qualifying patients and was passed during the 2019 Texas legislative session. This bill was signed by the governor on June 14, 2019, and became effective immediately.

The Texas Department of Public Safety regulates dispensaries authorized by the Compassionate-Use Act. Rules and regulations related to the Compassionate-Use Program can be found in the Texas Administrative Code, Title 37, Part 1, Chapter 12.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has provided answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the Compassionate Use Program on their website. Here are some selected FAQs:

What is "Low-THC Cannabis"?
Texas Occupations Code Sec. 169.001 defines "Low-THC Cannabis" as the plant Cannabis sativa L., and any part of that plant or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, preparation, resin, or oil of that plant that contains:
A. not more than 0.5 percent by weight of tetrahydrocannabinols; and
B. not less than 10 percent by weight of cannabidiol.

What medical conditions are covered under this program?
The Compassionate Use Program is statutorily limited to patients in Texas with epilepsy, a seizure disorder, spasticity, amyotrophic later sclerois, autism, terminal cancer, or an incurable neurodegenerative disease. 

What protections will patients and legal guardians have against criminal prosecution?
Texas Health and Safety Code Sec. 481.111(e)(1) provides exemptions from state laws prohibiting possession of marijuana for patients (and their legal guardians) for whom low-THC cannabis is prescribed under a valid prescription, and purchased from a licensed dispensing organization.

Will patients be able to grow their own cannabis?
No. Only licensed dispensers will be able grow cannabis and only for use in the production of low-THC cannabis. Patients are required to purchase low-THC cannabis products from a licensed dispensing organization.

Outside the provisions set out in the Texas Compassionate Use Act, our librarians have not been able to locate any Texas statutes that address the use of "medical marijuana". For more information, please take a look at the Compassionate-Use Program page of the Cannabis and the Law research guide.

Recreational use of marijuana is still illegal under Texas and federal law. Federal penalties for possession of a controlled substance are found in United States Code, Title 21, Section 844

The Texas Controlled Substances Act (Health and Safety Code, Ch. 481) defines marijuana (spelled "marihuana") and sets criminal penalties for possession, delivery, and delivery to a child.

Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug in the Federal Controlled Substances Act (21 USC Sec. 812).

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