Hidalgo County prohibits the cultivation of cannabis for recreational purposes. However, a bill (SB 140) to enable Texans over the age of 21 to cultivate up to 12 cannabis plants at home for recreational use remains pending in the state senate. SB 140 would require that the home cultivation of cannabis be conducted in enclosed, locked, and concealed locations. Per SB 140, cannabis cultivation means the propagation, breeding, growing, harvesting, drying, curing, or separation of cannabis plant parts by mechanical or manual means.
Note that marijuana establishments licensed as dispensaries in Hidalgo County are permitted to cultivate cannabis for medicinal marijuana purposes.
Cannabis manufacturing is illegal in Hidalgo County except if carried out by licensed dispensary organizations for medical marijuana purposes. However, if SB 140 is passed into law, Section 491.051 (a)(4) of the bill will permit Hidalgo County residents aged 21 or older to process cannabis at home as long as no more than 12 cannabis plants are processed in their residential unit at any time. The separation or preparation of cannabis plant components, as well as the mixing, compounding, extracting, infusing, or manufacturing of cannabis concentrates or cannabis products, are all considered cannabis processing in Texas. Per SB 140, cannabis manufacturing would only be permitted in facilities that have been certified by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Adult-use cannabis retail sales are prohibited in Hidalgo County. On the other hand, licensed dispensary organizations may sell medical cannabis to patients registered and listed on the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT). Before selling medical cannabis to a person, a medical cannabis dispensary must validate the patient's registration and prescription on the CURT. Dispensary organizations that offer cannabis to unregistered persons face severe penalties.
Hidalgo County prohibits the delivery of recreational cannabis. However, medical marijuana dispensaries are permitted to deliver marijuana to patients registered in the Texas Compassionate Use Registry. Section 481.120 of the Texas Health and Safety Code establishes the penalty for illicit cannabis delivery in Hidalgo County and Texas.
A medical marijuana (MMJ) card is a kind of identification that enables the holder to purchase and use medicinal cannabis legally. Unlike some other states, Texas does not issue physical medical marijuana cards but enables qualified citizens to access medicinal cannabis via its Compassionate Use Program (CUP). The Texas CUP is a low-dose THC program that permits approved physicians to administer THC and CBD to registered individuals. Under the program, each registered patient is assigned an authorized physician who analyzes the patient’s progress with cannabis over time in order to determine the optimum treatment plan for the patient’s long-term health.
To register under the Texas CUP, a patient must be 18 years of age or older, reside in Hidalgo County or another Texas county, and suffer from one or more of the qualifying conditions. A Hidalgo County resident suffering from one of the following conditions may apply to register to use medicinal cannabis:
Once you have fulfilled the eligibility requirements, you may book a consultation with an approved physician who will determine whether the potential benefit of low-THC medicinal cannabis exceeds any possible hazards associated with cannabis use. After confirming your eligibility for medicinal cannabis usage, the doctor will finalize your Texas Compassionate Use Registry (CURT) registration. While registration in the CURT is free, the physician may charge for the appointment.
The CURT was created to enable licensed doctors to register and prescribe medical cannabis to qualifying patients in accordance with the Texas Compassionate Use Act. According to Texas law, the CURT must always be available to doctors and dispensing organizations, allowing medical cannabis dispensaries to verify the registrations and prescriptions of medical cannabis patients who visit to fill their prescriptions.
Since the Texas CUP has no provisions for caregivers, minors can only register to use medicinal cannabis with the assistance of their parents or legal guardians. Patients registered with CURT may legally possess and use low-THC medical cannabis products, which contain no more than 1% THC.
As adult-use cannabis remains illegal in Hidalgo County, the county does not generate any revenue from recreational cannabis. Additionally, Hidalgo County does not levy any tax on medical cannabis purchases; hence, the total revenue accruing to the county is negligible. However, if SB 140 is signed into law, the state will impose a 10% tax on cannabis and cannabis products.
According to a study published by Vicente Sederberg LLP, a top-ranked cannabis law and policy company in the United States, if adult-use cannabis is legalized in Texas, the industry will create around 40,000 direct jobs for Texans. According to the report’s findings, Texas could collect more than $1 billion in income each year, as well as around $10 million annually in licensing and license renewal fees.
DUI arrest rates in Hidalgo County have been declining in recent years following the legalization of medical cannabis in 2015. According to crime statistics obtained from the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office through the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program, Hidalgo County recorded 282 DUI arrests in 2016, 165 DUI arrests in 2017, 132 DUI arrests in 2019, 115 DUI arrests, and 73 DUI arrests in 2020. While DUI arrest rates have seen a sharp decline over the years, arrests rates for marijuana possession have slowly decreased. Hidalgo County recorded 325 arrests, 261 arrests, 224 arrests, 206 arrests, and 203 arrests for marijuana sales in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively.