Travis County Cannabis Overview

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  2. Travis County Cannabis

Is Cannabis Cultivation Legal in Travis County?

It is illegal to cultivate cannabis for recreational purposes in Travis County. Although a bill (SB 140) to allow adult Texans aged 21 or older to cultivate up to 12 cannabis plants at home for recreational purposes has been filed by Senator Roland Gutierrez, it remains pending with the State Affairs Committee. SB 140 would require the home cultivation of cannabis to be conducted in enclosed spaces that are locked and hidden from public view. SB 140 defines cannabis cultivation to include the propagation, breeding, growing, harvesting, drying, curing, or separation of cannabis plant parts by manual or mechanical means.

Licensed dispensary organizations are authorized to cultivate cannabis for medical marijuana purposes. Cannabis cultivation other than by licensed dispensaries attract severe punishments. The penalties for illegally cultivating mariuana in Texas depend on the amount of cannabis cultivated by the offender. First-time offenders may be charged with misdemeanors if caught with small amounts, while repeated offenders may be charged with felonies and fined up to $50,000 and sentenced to up to 100 years in state prisons.

Is Cannabis Manufacturing Legal in Travis County?

It is illegal to manufacture cannabis in Travis County except if the manufacturing is conducted by dispensary organizations with valid licenses for medicinal marijuana purposes. Section 491.051 (a)(4) of SB 140, if passed into law, will allow individuals aged 21 or older in Travis County to process cannabis at home, as long as no more than 12 cannabis plants are processed on their properties. SB 140 defines cannabis processing as the separation or preparation of cannabis plant components, as well as the mixing, compounding, extracting, infusing, or manufacturing of cannabis concentrates or cannabis products. SB 140 will prohibit the processing of cannabis in public areas and restrict the activity to within Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)-approved facilities.

Is Cannabis Retail Legal in Travis County?

Retail sales of adult-use cannabis are illegal in Travis County. However, licensed dispensary organizations may sell medical cannabis to patients enrolled in the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT). In Texas, a medical cannabis dispensary is required to verify the registration of a patient and their prescription via the CURT before selling medical cannabis. There are strict penalties for dispensary organizations that sell cannabis to unregistered persons.

Is Cannabis Delivery Legal in Travis County?

The delivery of recreational cannabis is prohibited in Travis County. However, medical marijuana dispensaries are authorized to deliver medicinal marijuana to individuals registered in the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas. The penalties for the illegal delivery of cannabis in Travis County are outlined under Section 481.120 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.

How to Get Medical Marijuana Card in Travis County

A medical marijuana (MMJ) card is an identification card permitting the individual named on the card to obtain and use medicinal cannabis. Unlike most states in the United States, Texas does not issue a physical medical marijuana card but still allows qualifying residents to obtain and use medical cannabis under its Compassionate Use Program (CUP). The Texas CUP is a low-dose THC program that allows doctors certified by the program to prescribe THC and CBD medications to registered patients. The CUP assigns an approved physician to each registered patient who monitors the patient's progress with cannabis over time in order to find the best treatment plan for their long-term health.

To be eligible to register under the Texas CUP, a patient must be aged 18 or older, be a resident in Travis County or any other Texas County, and have one of the qualifying conditions recognized for medical cannabis therapy in Texas. The qualifying conditions include:

  • Parkinson's disease
  • Spasticity
  • PTSD
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Degenerative disk disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Dementia
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Amyloidosis
  • Nerve damage
  • Cancer
  • Neuropathy
  • Epilepsy
  • Huntington's disease
  • Any incurable neurodegenerative disease

Once you meet the eligibility criteria, you may schedule an appointment with a certified physician who will confirm whether the potential benefit of using low-THC medical cannabis outweighs any risk of cannabis use. Upon verifying that you qualify for medical cannabis use, the doctor will complete your registration in the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT). Although it is free to join the CURT, the physician may charge a fee for the appointment.

The CURT was established to allow approved physicians to register and prescribe medicinal cannabis to qualified patients under the Texas Compassionate Use Act. Under Texas law, the CURT is always accessible to physicians and dispensing organizations, so medical cannabis dispensaries can confirm the registrations and prescriptions of medical cannabis users who visit to fill their prescriptions.

Note that there are no provisions for caregivers under the Texas CUP; hence, minors cannot complete registrations for medical cannabis use except with the help of their parents or legal guardians. CURT-registered medical cannabis patients can legally possess and use low-THC cannabis products. Low-THC medical cannabis products contain no more than 1% THC.

How Has Cannabis Legalization Impacted the Economy of Travis County?

Travis County does not currently generate revenue from recreational cannabis as adult-use cannabis remains illegal in the county. The county also imposes no tax on medical cannabis sales. However, if SB 140 is passed into law, cannabis dispensing organizations or cannabis establishments will charge a 10% tax on cannabis and cannabis products. Hence, Travis County can generate revenue from excise or sales tax charged on cannabis products. According to a report by Vicente Sederberg LLP, a top-ranked cannabis law and policy firm in the United States, if adult-use cannabis is legalized in Texas, the cannabis industry would provide approximately 40,000 direct employment opportunities. According to the findings of the study, Texas may generate more than $1 billion in revenue every year and around $10 million in licensing and license renewal fees.

The Effects of Cannabis Legalization on Crime Rates in Travis County

Crime rates in Travis County for marijuana-related offenses have been on the rise since the legalization of medical cannabis in 2015. In the years preceding medical cannabis legalization, the records show 1,058 DUI arrests, 814 marijuana possession arrests, and 6 marijuana sales arrests in 2012. In 2013, Travis County recorded 858 DUI arrests, 870 marijuana possession arrests, and 8 marijuana sales arrests. In 2014, the record was 765 DUI arrests, 724 arrests for marijuana possession, and 7 arrests for marijuana sales. Travis County recorded 755 DUI arrests, 555 marijuana possession arrests, and 1 marijuana sales arrest in 2015.

In 2016, the year following the legalization of medical cannabis, Travis County recorded 560 arrests for DUI offenses, 486 arrests for marijuana possession, and 4 arrests for marijuana sales. In 2017, there were 608 arrests for DUI offenses, 557 arrests for marijuana possession, and no arrests for marijuana sales. In 2018, the county recorded 817 DUI arrests, 672 marijuana possession arrests, and 7 marijuana sale arrests. In 2020, the DUI figures were much higher as Travis County recorded 478 DUI arrests, 12 arrests for marijuana possession, and 1 arrest for marijuana sales.

Travis County Cannabis