Everything You Need to Know About the Texas Compassionate Use Program

Medically reviewed by Dr. Shatha Atiya on May 2, 2023

The signing of the Texas Compassionate Use Act was met with a collective cheer from across the state. Finally, Texas was open to the curative powers of medical marijuana! For years, residents of the Lone Star state could only watch as their neighbors legalized medicinal cannabis. The 2015 Senate Bill 339 may not have been perfect. But no one could deny that it was a huge step forward. Now, through the Texas Compassionate Use Program, residents can access safe, quality medical marijuana products.

It’s 2023, nine years since the Texas Compassionate Use Program (CUP) started. Nine impressive years since the CUP started positively impacting the lives of many Texans. From a comparatively small start, enrollment has grown to incredible heights! In 2022 alone, there were 43,056 patients enrolled in the Compassionate Use Program.

Below is a comprehensive rundown of the Texas Compassionate Use Program. From how it works, who qualifies, and the legislative journey that brought us here today.

How does the Texas Compassionate Use Program work?

The Texas Department of Public Safety runs the Compassionate Use Program (CUP). And the CUP streamlines access to medical marijuana for qualified patients in Texas.

In a nutshell, the Texas Compassionate Use Program is responsible for:

  • Registering qualified physicians to prescribe low-THC cannabis.
  • Licensing organizations that dispense medical marijuana in Texas. 
  • And implementing the directives of the Texas Compassionate Use Act.

To implement most of its duties, the CUP uses the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT).

What is the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas? (CURT)

The Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) is a secure online system that:

    1. Maintains a list of qualified physicians who can prescribe low-THC cannabis in Texas.

    2. It allows licensed physicians to update patient information and prescription details.

    3. Additionally, it allows Texas dispensaries to verify patients of low-THC cannabis. Plus, it gives the dispensaries access to patient prescriptions to fill them out.

    The CURT system is also available to law enforcement agencies to verify patients eligible for medical cannabis treatment.

    Who is a Compassionate Use Program Registered Doctor?

    Only doctors registered with the Compassionate Use Program can prescribe medical marijuana in Texas.

    To be CUP-registered, healthcare professionals must:

      1. Possess a full license under the Texas Compassionate Use Act.

      2. Be certified in a specialty relevant to their patient’s particular medical conditions by a specialty board approved by the American Board of Medical Specialties or the Bureau of Osteopathic Specialists.

      3. Finally, they must have dedicated a significant part of their practice to evaluating and treating their patient’s conditions.

      All the doctors at Quick Med Cards are registered with the Texas Compassionate Use Program. Moreover, they have the expertise to help you on your journey toward health and recovery.

      Patient holding a medical marijuana card

      Who Qualifies for the Texas Compassionate Use Program?

      To qualify for medical marijuana under the Texas Compassionate Use Program (CUP):

      • You must be a permanent resident of Texas.
      • You must be diagnosed with an illness on the Texas medical marijuana list of conditions. For example, ALS, autism, cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, and spasticity.
      • Finally, your CUP-registered physician must find that the benefits of cannabis treatment outweigh the risks.

      If you meet all the conditions above, you are eligible for low-THC cannabis under the CUP.

      How to Apply for Medical Marijuana in Texas

      Getting medical marijuana in Texas is easy. Especially with Quick Med Cards. You only need a prescription from a physician registered with the program. There’s no need to register with a state program or apply for a medical marijuana card like in other states.

      Follow the steps below to get your medical marijuana prescription:

      1. Fill out the information form and create your account with Quick Med Cards.

      2. Next, schedule an online consultation with one of our CUP-registered physicians.

      3. Attend your evaluation via video call–it takes less than 15 minutes.

      4. Next, our physician will update your prescription to the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) if you are eligible.

      5. Once the CURT processes your prescription, you can visit any dispensary in TX and fill your prescription.

      * The Texas Compassionate Use Program does not impose any age restrictions for medical marijuana. Even so, minor patients may need a parent or legal guardian present to get a prescription. Legal guardians will provide personal information, for instance, their name and the last five digits of their SSN.

      Benefits of the Texas Compassionate Use Program (So far)

      The Texas Compassionate Use Program (CUP) is a groundbreaking initiative to provide Texans with access to safe and legal medical marijuana.

      Through this program, individuals can receive THC-based medicines monitored by a licensed healthcare professional. In doing so, the CUP not only eliminates the hazards of procuring unregulated drugs but also allows treatment in a way that emphasizes efficacy and safety for patients.

      Additionally, access to these cannabis-based treatments has provided an effective alternative for those who have tried and failed to treat their condition with over-the-counter CBD products.

      As such, the Texas Compassionate Use Program has been invaluable in empowering people all across Texas with the finest medical care available for their specific needs.

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      Reports & Statistics

      Since its launch, the Texas Compassionate Use Program has made significant progress in ensuring Texans requiring medical marijuana can access it. In 2022 alone, physicians registered 43,056 patients to the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas.

      Line graph representing patients enrolled in the Texas Compassionate Use Program
      Line graph representing physicians registered in the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT)

      History of the Texas Compassionate Use Program

      The journey of the Texas Compassionate Use Program since 2015 has been long but rewarding. Below are key points in the history of medical marijuana in Texas.

      January 13, 2023

      The DPS began accepting new applications for medical marijuana dispensaries in TX.

      January 5, 2023

      The Texas DPS established the Compassionate Use Working Group.

      September 1, 2021

      The 87th Session of the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1535. As a result, non-terminal cancer and PTSD made it to the list of qualifying conditions. Also, illnesses designated by the Health and Human Services Commission as part of an approved research program made it to the list. Additionally, it increased the maximum THC level of low-THC cannabis to 1% by weight from 0.5%. Finally, the bill established the compassionate-use institutional review boards.

      December 5, 2019

      The CUP integrated incurable neurodegenerative disease into the CURT system. Initially, there was a delay because of the pending rule adoption by the Health and Human Services Commission.

      June 14, 2019

      The Texas Legislature passed HB 3703 into law. The bill added illnesses to the Texas list of conditions. Autism, epilepsy, incurable neurodegenerative disease, MS, seizure disorders, and terminal cancer made it to the list. Most importantly, it excluded the need for patients to get approval from two physicians.

      June 10, 2019

      Governor Abbott signed HB 1325. The bill sanctioned the development of a regulatory program for the cultivation and sale of hemp and hemp products.

      February 8, 2018

      The first medical marijuana dispensary in Texas, Compassionate Cultivation, began its operations.

      September 1, 2017

      The Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) went live. So, qualified physicians could register with the program and prescribe MMJ to eligible patients. Moreover, licensed dispensaries in Texas could fill prescriptions.

      May 1, 2017

      The CUP approved three applicants as dispensing organizations.

      June 1, 2015

      Governor Abbott signed SB 339, the Texas Compassionate Act, into law. This law effectively legalized medical marijuana in Texas. Then, only patients with intractable epilepsy could qualify for low-THC cannabis. Also, low-THC cannabis was capped at 0.5% of THC by weight and not less than 10% of CBD by weight. Additionally, two physicians had to approve a patient for medical marijuana. The Texas medical marijuana bill also laid the blueprint for the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas.

      January 23, 2015

      The Secretary of the Senate received and filed Senate Bill 339.

      Frequently Asked Questions Concerning the Texas Compassionate Use Program

      Below are answers to common questions patients may have concerning the Texas Compassionate Use Program.

      Does Texas have a medical marijuana card?

      Texas does not issue medical marijuana cards through its cannabis program.

      But it does require patients to receive a cannabis prescription from a CUP-registered physician. Texas MMJ doctors must then upload their patient’s personal and prescription information to the CURT system. Afterward, patients can buy medical cannabis from any dispensary in TX.

      Did Texas House Bill 1535 pass?

      Governor Abbott signed House Bill 1535 into law on June 15, 2021. And it became effective on September 1, 2021.

      House Bill 1535, a product of the 87th Legislative Session, led to a tremendous expansion of the Texas Compassionate Use Program. Notably, it expanded the list of qualifying conditions to include non-terminal cancer and PSTD. In addition, it also increased the maximum THC level of low-THC cannabis from 0.5% to 1% by weight. Lastly, it established the compassionate-use institutional review boards.

      How strong is Texas medical marijuana?

      Medical marijuana in Texas is only legal in the form of low-THC cannabis.

      The Texas Compassionate Use Act defines low-THC cannabis as any form of Cannabis Sativa that does not contain more than 1% of THC by weight. While some may wonder if this is potent or strong enough, many patients in Texas are finding success in treating their chronic conditions through this form of cannabis.

      Can you own a gun with a medical marijuana card in Texas?

      According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, participating in the state’s medical marijuana program does not automatically disqualify you from owning a gun or getting a License to Carry.

      But the federal Gun Control Act does revoke the right to possess, receive, or transport firearms or ammunition for any user or addict of a controlled substance. Remember, federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance.

      What is the cost of medical marijuana in Texas?

      The cost of medical marijuana in Texas depends on the dispensary, the type of medical marijuana, and the amount you buy.

      Typically, Texas dispensaries offer medical marijuana at around $30 for gummies, $7 for cannabis-infused drinks, $35 for chocolate-infused bars, $45 for tinctures, and $60 for topicals. Also, don’t forget to get your cannabis prescription before shopping for medical marijuana. Quick Med Cards is the cheapest provider in Texas, with prices starting from $45.

      Who is allowed to use medical marijuana in Texas?

      You can only access medical marijuana in Texas through the Compassionate Use Program.

      The program is only open to permanent residents of Texas suffering from an illness from the list of qualifying conditions. For instance, autism, cancer, epilepsy, and PTSD. Most importantly, patients must get a marijuana prescription from a licensed MMJ doctor in the state. With a valid prescription, patients can lawfully buy and use low-THC cannabis from any dispensary in Texas.

      Can I use my Texas medical marijuana card in another state?

      No. Two things may prevent Texans from accessing medical marijuana in other states.

      First, Texas does not have reciprocity agreements with other states. Secondly, Texas does not issue medical marijuana cards. And without a state-issued medical marijuana card, a Texan cannot provide proof of their patient status in another state.

      How much marijuana can you legally have in Texas?

      Possessing any amount of cannabis in Texas can land you in serious trouble if you do not have a valid marijuana prescription.

      As for patients with a marijuana prescription, there is no limit to how much MMJ they can legally possess. Doctors registered with the Texas Compassionate Use Program indicate how much low-THC cannabis one can get on their prescription.

      Can you grow with a medical card in Texas?

      No. The Texas Compassionate Use Act only allows licensed dispensers to grow cannabis for use in the production of low-THC cannabis.

      So, it is illegal to grow cannabis in Texas even if you have a valid medical marijuana prescription. As a patient, you can only get low-THC cannabis products from a licensed dispensary in the state.

      Can you get marijuana prescribed in Texas?

      Yes. The Texas Compassionate Use Act allows licensed physicians to prescribe medical marijuana to Texans ailing from certain conditions.

      With your medical marijuana prescription, you can get your dose of low-THC cannabis from any dispensary in TX.

      How much is it to get a medical marijuana card in Texas?

      The Texas Compassionate Use Program does not charge patients any fees to access medical marijuana.

      In fact, the only costs associated with getting medical marijuana in Texas are the consultation fees for getting a cannabis prescription. Quick Med Cards provides the cheapest medical marijuana prescriptions in Texas. With costs starting from $45 to a maximum of $149.

      Can I get marijuana mailed to me in Texas?

      No, it is illegal and risky to mail marijuana in Texas since it is a Schedule I substance under federal law.

      Even so, patients with valid cannabis prescriptions can have their medical marijuana delivered to them. Most licensed dispensaries in Texas provide home delivery services. So, patients can order their medicine online and have it delivered to their homes.

      Does Texas allow edibles?

      Yes, you can buy edibles in Texas. The Lone Star state allows all forms of medical marijuana except smokable marijuana.

      With a cannabis prescription, you can access a variety of edibles from Texas dispensaries. For example, cannabis lozenges, gummies, infused chocolate, and infused drinks.

      Can you smoke recreationally in Texas?

      No. Recreational marijuana in any form is illegal in Texas. Also, Texas medical marijuana laws exclude smoking as a medical use of cannabis.

      So, smoking marijuana as a recreational user or a patient with a cannabis prescription is illegal in TX.

      Patient Resources and Forms

      How to Contact the Texas Compassionate Use Program

      State Agency: Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)

      Phone: (512) 424-7293

      Department of Public Safety Email: pio@txdps.texas.gov

      Mailing Address:

      Texas Department of Public Safety
      Compassionate Use Program – MSC 0240
      PO Box 4087
      Austin, TX 78773-0240

      Website: https://www.dps.texas.gov/section/compassionate-use-program

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