In Texas, patients who qualify to have access to medical cannabis via the Texas’ Compassionate Use Program (TCUP) can now obtain a prescription and have it filled at any of the dispensaries available in the Lone Star State. But finding a good dispensary goes beyond asking Google for “marijuana dispensary near me”, “medical marijuanas dispensary in Texas” or “dispensary near me open”. We prepared a comprehensive guide with all dispensary-related questions for you to find all the answers in just one place, so read on!
What is a dispensary?
First things first: what is a dispensary? A dispensary is a place that dispenses medicine or medical treatment. In a traditional setting, the medicine is dispensed by a pharmacist following a prescription.
When shopping for cannabis products, customers have access to different types of providers; but not all providers are the same. Although not all consumers are aware of the differences, there is a clear distinction between CBD stores and dispensaries. While CBD stores sell cannabis products mostly for recreational use, cannabis dispensaries sell them for medical purposes. The differences go beyond the intended use of the products as we’ll explain below.
CBD stores vs dispensaries
CBD stores sell products that are CBD-infused and have little (up to 0.3%) to no content of THC. CBD obtained from hemp is legal in the US and widely available over-the-counter as CBD stores have popped up all over the country in recent years.
Dispensaries, on the other hand, sell products that differ from over-the-counter CBD-infused products not only because they require a prescription but often, and most importantly, because of their content and quality. Good dispensaries are licensed and highly regulated since they can legally sell products with a higher content of THC (up to 1% for Texas dispensaries). Because they are highly regulated, you can rest assured that any product purchased at a licensed dispensary has been subject to a strict testing process to check for content, contaminants, and safety. This is not the case for over-the-counter products offered at a CBD store where labels might or might not list correctly what is contained in the product you are purchasing. Prescription marijuanas have embedded a seal of quality and transparency in their components that most over-the-counter cannabis products don’t necessarily have.
What makes a good dispensary?
A good dispensary is licensed, offers a variety of options in the products it sells, has knowledgeable staff who can answer your questions, provides good prices, has solid privacy policies, is easily accessible with pick-up locations in safe areas, and can deliver the prescriptions to its customers. You are not alone when googling “dispensary that delivers near me” and it’s good to know that even if you don’t live next to the closest dispensary downtown, you can still get your prescription filled and delivered to you, regardless of where you live. Most importantly, good dispensaries should have high-quality products manufactured in state-of-the-art facilities that can attest to the safety, quality, and purity that patients are looking for when purchasing medical cannabis. Texas Original meets those conditions and that’s why it’s our preferred choice among Texas dispensaries.
What do you need to buy medical cannabis at Texas dispensaries?
To be able to buy medical cannabis at a dispensary, patients in Texas need to:
1- Be 18+ years old (or the legal guardian of minors who qualify for treatment).
2- Be registered by a licensed physician in the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) and have a valid prescription.
3- Present a valid photo ID.
4- Present an accepted form of payment.
How To Get a Marijuana Prescription in Texas?
As opposed to what happens in other states of the country that have medical marijuana programs in place, Texas doesn’t confer marijuana cards that provide patients access to medical cannabis. To have access to that treatment in the Lone Star state, patients need to have a prescription.
To obtain a marijuana prescription in Texas you need to meet the following criteria:
1- Be a permanent Texas resident.
2- Have a qualifying medical condition as determined by law.
3- Be evaluated by a registered marijuana doctor licensed by the state.
4- Be included by your marijuana doctor in the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) so you become part of the medical marijuana program in the state.
The law in Texas is very specific in terms of what medical conditions qualify patients for the program. Although initially the TCUP only covered patients with intractable epilepsy, it has evolved through the years to include more conditions such as all forms of epilepsy and other seizure disorders, cancer, autism, spasticity, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other incurable neurodegenerative diseases. Our hope is the program continues to evolve and include more medical conditions so that more Texas patients who can benefit from medical marijuana to manage their symptoms in a safe and effective way, can radically improve their health journey.
If you meet the qualifying criteria, the actual process of obtaining a medical marijuana prescription is pretty straightforward:
1- Find a licensed medical marijuana doctor in Texas (find a comprehensive guide on how to do this here.)
2- Schedule an appointment. If you don’t live in one of the main cities of the state, don’t fret! Your opportunity to access high-quality care is not impaired and you don’t have to travel. Nowadays, you can access top medical services from the comfort of your home via telemedicine. All you need is an internet connection and a working device (mobile phone, tablet, or computer) to get started.
3- Be registered in the CURT and obtain a prescription. During your telemedicine appointment, your medical cannabis doctor will review your overall medical condition, verify your eligibility to the program, customize a treatment plan, register your name in the CURT so you become part of the TCUP, and write a prescription that you can fill at any licensed dispensary in Texas.
4- Select a licensed dispensary to fill your prescription.
How To Find The Best Medical Marijuanas Dispensary in Texas?
With the adoption in 2015 of the TCUP and as more patients have become aware of the benefits of treating their medical conditions safely and effectively with medical marijuana, the need for dispensaries has increased as well. State law requires that any organization looking to dispense medical cannabis be licensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Up until now, DPS has granted those licenses to three organizations in the state: Texas Original, goodblend, and Fluent. The use of cannabis in Texas is legal only for medical purposes (not recreational), therefore, licensed dispensaries can only distribute medical cannabis by filling an existing prescription for qualified patients.
Does that mean that there are only three locations to fill prescriptions? Not exactly. Each licensed organization has several locations so they can ensure statewide access to Texan patients. If you live in one of Texas’s largest cities, you will have no issue finding one when googling “marijuana dispensary near me” or “medical marijuanas dispensary Houston”, and just as easily if you swap Houston for Austin, Dallas or San Antonio on your Google search.
But what does that mean for patients in smaller cities? If that’s you, don’t worry. Your cannabis doctor will call in your prescription to a dispensary near you (Texas Original has locations in Central, North, and East Texas as well as in the Houston area for example). If there are none in your town, then your doctor can indicate which dispensary is more conveniently located or even suggest one that can deliver your prescription to your own home. Depending on the value of your purchase you might have to pay a delivery fee, but those are usually waived after a certain threshold. For deliveries in more remote areas of Texas, there might be a minimum purchase required to qualify for delivery but rest assured, regardless of where in the state you live, you have options.
How Do I Find a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Houston ?
Although the TCUP has been in place since 2015, the first permanent brick-and-mortar medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors in Houston not long ago, in June 2022. Out of the 3 organizations licensed to dispense this medicine in the state, only Texas Original has its own physical store in Houston (centrally located in the Heights area) while also offering pick-up service in the Woodlands and Spring through third-party medical pick-up partners. In contrast, its competitors (Fluent and Goodblend) rely exclusively on direct delivery or third-party medical partners to provide indirect in-person pick-up to customers in the Houston area (West Houston to be more specific). Bear in mind that there are restrictions in place that limit dispensaries’ ability to stock marijuana at the store, therefore curbing the dispensary from taking walk-ins for same-day pick-up. Also, pick-up options might not be available every day so it’s best to call the dispensary ahead of time, place your order, and schedule the pick-up date and time before heading over or opting for home delivery when available. Find more information about medical marijuana in Houston, here.
How Do I Find a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Austin?
Finding a medical marijuana dispensary in Austin is relatively easy as two of the three licensed dispensing organizations in the state have locations in both North and South Austin. Texas Original has 2 locations in town with service Monday through Saturday and very convenient hours (check with each location as days and hours vary slightly between locations) and Goodblend offers services to patients in the Austin area through its own store that opened in South Austin in March 2023 (open every day, hours vary) and through a medical partner in North Austin for pick-up only (Thursday, Friday 11am- 4pm).
The third licensed organization, Fluent, doesn’t have brick-and-mortar stores and fills prescriptions exclusively by delivery to patient’s homes. Home delivery might be very convenient for patients who don’t mind covering delivery fees and waiting a few days, while the ability to place an order and walk in to pick-it up on the same day might be more convenient for others; the good news is: as a patient you have great choices to get your medical marijuana prescription filled at a dispensary in Austin!
How Do I Find a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in San Antonio?
Patients looking for a medical marijuana dispensary in San Antonio have several options to choose from. Texas Original offers service from Monday through Friday via its own store and also via 2 medical partners located in East and West San Antonio (check with the dispensary for specific days and hours at each location) while goodblend relies on a medical partner located north of the city for in-person pick-up Monday through Friday. Just as is the case in other Texan cities, local patients in San Antonio can also order their prescriptions for delivery from either of the above dispensaries or from Fluent.
How Do I Find a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Dallas?
The three dispensing organizations licensed to provide access to medical marijuana in Texas offer several options for patients looking for a medical marijuana dispensary in Dallas and its surrounding areas. Texas Original owns locations in Hurst and Plano, while also relying on medical partners to offer prescription pick-up in Frisco, Fort Worth, Addison, and North Dallas (days and hours of service vary by location so contact the dispensary for details). Goodblend has a location in Plano with service 7 days a week and also offers pick-up services through a medical partner in Fort Worth (pick-up available Monday and Thursday, 10 am – 2 pm.) If you are located in a different area of Dallas and don’t want to drive to any of the above locations, you can always opt for delivery from either of the above-mentioned dispensaries or from Fluent.
Can You Get Your Medical Marijuana Prescription Filled at a Dispensary in a Different State?
No, inclusion in the Texas’ Compassionate Use Program (TCUP) grants you legal access to medical marijuana only within state borders. Therefore, Texan patients can only get their prescriptions filled at licensed dispensaries in Texas and the prescription won’t be valid in a different state. Conversely, if you have a medical marijuana card from a different state and are visiting Texas, you won’t be able to get a prescription refill at any Texas dispensary.
What to Expect Inside a Dispensary?
Dispensaries differ from regular pharmacies in that when you fill your prescription, you won’t find a prepackaged bottle with your name on it. Instead, you will find several different products that meet the prescription’s criteria for you to choose from. Having multiple options sounds like a great proposition but the truth is it can be overwhelming, particularly for new patients.
Before you head over to the dispensary, make sure your doctor has explained the different forms (tinctures, gummies, beverages, chocolates) and flavor options, the specific dosage you need to take, onset time of each form, intake frequency and intervals and any other details pertaining to your prescription so you know what you should be looking for to narrow the choices and adequately identify the product(s) that are better suited to help you execute your treatment plan.
A good dispensary should also have staff who are trained in all things cannabis, are able to answer any of your cannabis-related questions, and provide the best support to help you decide what product best suits your needs.
What Forms of Payment Are Accepted at a Dispensary?
Although cannabis has been legalized at the state level in several states in the US, it is still illegal at the Federal level and because of that reason, credit cards usually can’t be used to purchase cannabis-related products that have more than 0.3% THC. Generally accepted forms of payment at dispensaries are cash, checks, money orders, and payments via applications such as CanPay and AeroPay (check with your dispensary of choice what forms of payment are accepted before you head over to pick up your prescription.)
How to Save Money When Buying Medical Cannabis at a Dispensary
For patients who rely on taking medication daily to manage their symptoms, being able to save on their medicine is crucial; patients who use medical marijuana are no different. If this is you, here are a few tips to consider when looking to save some money on your medical marijuana prescriptions:
1- Obtain price discounts by subscribing to your favorite dispensary’s loyalty program or by keeping an eye out and taking advantage of advertised deals.
2- Use the lowest effective dose: when you start your medical cannabis treatment, your doctor will likely recommend you start with low doses and increase as needed. Many times you don’t need a full dose; for some patients, a fraction of a gummy could be all that’s needed to obtain the result expected from their treatment.
3- Time your medicine intake: your doctor will prescribe a compound that adjusts to your specific needs. Make sure you discuss with them what time of the day is more convenient for medicine intake; you should also discuss the frequency of intake to optimize its efficiency (should you take one daily dose or several microdoses per day?) The more efficient, the less you will need to consume.
4- Try different strains and products: as mentioned above, when you enter a dispensary you will find an extensive array of products that meet your prescription’s criteria. Your options when choosing what works best in terms of symptom management are varied and they depend to a large extent on your preferences, but also your budget. You might have to try different products until you find one that optimizes not only the health benefits you’re looking for but also your preferences and your budget.
When The Dispensary is In a Different Town, Are There Limits to Carrying Your Medical Marijuana Prescription Back Home?
It depends. If you are a qualified patient registered in the CURT and traveling within state borders, generally speaking, you are free to carry your medical marijuana prescription with you without any limitations except if you plan to fly. In fact, the exception to legal carry within the state is when flying: all airports in the country are subject to federal laws and because marijuana is still considered an illegal substance at the federal level, your prescription is not allowed through airport security. Therefore, although you can get your prescription filled at a licensed dispensary in Houston or Dallas, you can’t carry it with you if you are planning to fly between those cities so you’ll have to adjust your commuting plans.
There you have it! Now you know what requirements you need to meet to become a customer at any dispensary in Texas, how to obtain your prescription, how to find the best medical cannabis dispensary for you, how to save money at the dispensary, and what limits apply to filling and transporting prescriptions in Texas. Don’t forget that, when choosing a dispensary, it’s crucial to consider factors such as the variety of products offered, convenience (location, delivery, and accepted forms of payment), pricing, privacy policies, and access to knowledgeable staff. Most importantly, make sure the dispensary is licensed by the state and follows all the regulations and safety measures to ensure that the products they offer meet the quality, purity, transparency, and safety standards required by law.
Are you a qualified patient considering medical cannabis for your health condition? Do you need further guidance on how to proceed? Schedule an appointment today, we are here to help.