Texas permits the cultivation of cannabis for medical uses. The Texas Compassionate Use Act allows the cultivation of low-THC cannabis. Chapter 169 of the Occupations Code defines low-THC cannabis as the plant Cannabis sativa and any part of the plant containing no more than 1 percent by weight of tetrahydrocannabinols (THC). A licensed dispensing organization can cultivate, manufacture, and dispense low-THC cannabis to medical marijuana patients. The Act prohibits counties and local authorities in the state from enacting rules, ordinances, or regulations to prevent the cultivation of low-THC cannabis in their jurisdictions.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) issues licenses to approved dispensing organizations. The department issued three licenses in 2017 and is not accepting new applications. Licensed dispensing organizations have no limits on the number of low-THC cannabis plants they can cultivate. Low-THC cannabis can be grown indoors or outdoors by licensed dispensing organizations.
Cultivation of cannabis intended for recreational use is illegal in El Paso County. Cultivation of marijuana for personal use in a residence is also prohibited. The Texas Controlled Substances Act prohibits the cultivation of cannabis meant for medicinal purposes.
Manufacturing of low-THC cannabis products for medical purposes is legal in El Paso County. The Compassionate Use Act permits the processing of cannabis with not more than 1 percent THC by licensed dispensing organizations. The Compassionate Use Act prohibits El Paso County from regulating the manufacture of low-THC cannabis in the county. The Texas Controlled Substances Act does not permit manufacture of cannabis products intended for recreational purposes.
It is illegal to sell marijuana intended for recreational use in El Paso County. Licensed dispensing organizations can sell low-THC cannabis to medical marijuana patients as prescribed by licensed physicians. The physician determines the form and quantity of low-THC cannabis a patient can buy. The Compassionate Use Act prohibits the smoking of cannabis and cannabis products.
Adult-use cannabis delivery is illegal in El Paso County. Section 481.074 (m) of the Texas Controlled Substance Act permits licensed dispensing organizations to deliver prescribed low-THC cannabis to medical marijuana patients in their residences. The dispensing organization must log the delivery time, dosage, and form of low-THC cannabis delivered.
The Texas Compassionate Use Act established the Compassionate Use Program (CUP) to coordinate the medical marijuana program in the state. Medical Marijuana cards are not issued to patients in Texas. The CUP registers certified physicians who can prescribe low-THC cannabis to patients who qualify for the program. Patients residing in El Paso County can search for participating physicians practicing in the county on the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) website. The qualifying medical conditions are::
A certified physician determines that the potential benefits of the medical use of low-THC cannabis outweigh the risks to the patient. The physician inputs the patient's information and prescription into the CURT. The prescription will include the date of the prescription, the dosage, and the means of administration of the low-THC cannabis by the patient.
Patients can go to licensed dispensaries to get their prescriptions. They must provide valid ID cards, last names, dates of birth, and the last five digits of their social security numbers. Participating physicians, licensed dispensaries, and law enforcement officers can access the CURT portal.
Texas does not have an age limit for patients who may qualify for low-THC cannabis. However, a patient under 18 years of age may need a legal guardian. Patients are not required to pay to be in the CUP. Patients with complaints or enquiries can contact the Texas Regulatory Services Division (RSD) via the online Complaint Form, call (512) 424-7293, or send complaint letters to:
Texas Department of Public Safety
Compassionate Use Program - MSC 0240
P.O. Box 8087
Austin, TX 78773-0240
Section 491.252 of the Texas Real Solutions Act imposes a 10 percent sales tax on cannabis and cannabis products. However, El Paso County did not indicate revenue from cannabis in its Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports. Therefore, it is difficult to measure the impact of medical cannabis on the economy of the county.
The Compassionate Use Act became effective in June 2015. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office submits the county's crime data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The crime figures showed that there were 425 marijuana possession arrests and 14 marijuana sales arrests in 2014, a year before the passage of the Act. The figures increased to 444 marijuana possession arrests and 45 marijuana sales arrests in 2015 when the Act took effect. In 2016, there were 487 marijuana possession arrests and seven marijuana sales arrests. In 2017, there were 423 marijuana possession arrests and 119 marijuana sales arrests. There were 287 marijuana possession arrests and 41 marijuana sales arrests recorded in 2018. In 2019, 276 marijuana possession arrests and 45 marijuana sales arrests were recorded. In 2020, there were 80 marijuana possession arrests and four marijuana sales arrests. The marijuana possession arrest figures decreased from 487 arrests in 2016, a year after the Act was enacted, to 80 arrests in 2020. The legalization of medical marijuana did not have an effect on marijuana sales arrests in El Paso County.
The Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrest figures submitted by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office showed 274 DUI arrests in 2014. In 2015 when the Act took effect, there were 342 DUI arrests. In 2016, 330 DUI arrests were recorded. There were 219 DUI arrests in 2017 and 218 arrests in 2018. In 2019, there were 210 DUI arrests. In 2020, there were 219 DUI arrests. DUI arrest figures reduced from 342 arrests in 2015 to 219 in 2020. In conclusion, analyzing arrest data submitted by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office from 2014 to 2020 indicates marijuana possession and DUI arrests have decreased since medical marijuana was legalized in the county.