Marijuana has become increasingly socially acceptable in recent years. More states every year vote to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. As people see that crime rates do not end up spiking in these states, prohibition seems like a lost cause. However, many states, including Texas, still criminalize the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana for most people.
When people think about marijuana laws in Texas, they might recall that Texas does have a medical marijuana law on the books. In fact, the state has already approved three companies to grow and distribute medical marijuana in the state. Nevertheless, although 83 percent of people in Texas support legalized medical marijuana, the state's law covers next to no one.
Texas has a very restrictive medical marijuana law
Despite mounting research indicating that CBD-only medical marijuana is not as beneficial as full-spectrum medical marijuana, Texas lawmakers passed a bill that only allows for the use of high-CBD and low-THC marijuana extracts. The law is even more restrictive in that only those with intractable epilepsy are even allowed that much. People with cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, post-traumatic stress and chronic pain have no legal way to access marijuana in Texas.
Although many of these people may choose to use marijuana to treat their conditions, they break the law when they do so. If they grow their own marijuana, they face serious criminal charges. If they buy from an in-state supplier, they risk arrest every time they do so. Bringing marijuana or marijuana extracts across the border from another state is also risky. Not only does that break Texas possession laws, it violates federal laws by moving a prohibited drug across state lines.
Recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in Texas
Despite relaxing social attitudes about marijuana use, it is still illegal to use or possess marijuana in Texas. Anyone caught in possession of marijuana faces potentially serious penalties.
For those caught with two ounces or less of natural state marijuana, the offense is a misdemeanor that carries up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $2,000. For those caught with between two and four ounces, the misdemeanor charges for that offense carry a year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines. Possession of more than four ounces becomes a felony offense, with penalties ranging from six months to 99 years in prison.
A conviction for any drug offense in the State of Texas also carries an automatic driver's license suspension. Criminal convictions related to drug offenses can impact the ability to receive federal funding for college, to find a decent job or to secure rental housing. Anyone facing marijuana charges in Texas, even misdemeanor charges, should carefully consider their options for a defense, ideally with the help of a skilled criminal defense lawyer.