Texas Marijuana Laws

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Is Marijuana Legal in Texas?

No. However, CBD oil, an extract of the marijuana plant, is legal for medical purposes in the state. Currently, CBD products are not subject to thorough monitoring or testing by the Federal Drug Administration, so there is minimal quality control as to what ingredients they contain. Texas passed the Compassionate-Use Act in 2015, legislation that allowed the state's first legal use of low-THC marijuana products. With this legislation, patients with intractable epilepsy were permitted to use low-THC products to treat their medical conditions. In 2019 and 2021, the Texas Legislature expanded the list of eligible patients for the Compassionate-Use Program.

In 2021, HB 1535, which will go into effect on September 1, 2021, extends the Compassionate-Use Program to medical patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and all forms of cancer. The legislation raises the maximum level of THC from the previous 0.5% to 1%. Currently, patients with the following medical conditions can benefit from the Compassionate-Use Program:

As of July 2021, Texas is yet to legalize recreational marijuana. However, in 2019, the state Legislature passed HB 1325, which gives Texans the ability to cultivate and possess hemp. The use or possession of cannabis with a concentration of more than 0.3% THC is still considered illegal in Texas. Carrying more than 4 ounces of marijuana in any circumstance or possessing more than 2 to 4 ounces in a Drug-Free Zone is a felony offense in Texas.

Can I Use Cannabis?

Texas residents can only use CBD oil, an extract of cannabis, for medical purposes. Cannabis is a plant with some psychoactive properties. It has both medical and recreational purposes. Its flowers, when harvested and dried, are potent drugs commonly referred to as marijuana. Cannabis contains several components known as cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The THC component of cannabis makes users get high, while CBD is a compound of marijuana that reduces pain and inflammation. Generally, people use cannabis for its calming effects and medical purposes.

HB 1535, which will go into effect on September 1, 2021, extends the Compassionate-Use Program to medical patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and all forms of cancer. The legislation raises the maximum level of THC from the previous 0.5% to 1%. Currently, patients with medical conditions such as epilepsy, autism, spasticity, and terminal cancer can use CBD oil via the Compassionate-Use Program. The Texas Compassionate-Use Program also covers the treatment of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, and incurable neurodegenerative disease.

Cannabis has always been illegal in Texas, and the state banned possession statewide in 1931. Mexican immigration to the United States around the 1910 Mexican Revolution largely contributed to cannabis illegalization in the United States. The traditional means of intoxication for Mexican immigrants were smoking weed, and most Americans were not comfortable with this. At one point, there were rumors that Mexicans were distributing the killer cannabis to naive American schoolchildren. Although there was no tangible proof to support claims that marijuana was entirely evil, 29 states banned cannabis between 1916 and 1931. There was also no report of death from overdose, but many Americans were determined to outlaw marijuana. In 1937, the first federal law on marijuana, the Marijuana Tax Act, outlawed weed nationwide despite objections from the American Medical Association regarding its medicinal benefits. As of 2021, cannabis is still illegal on the federal level.

Currently, the use of cannabis for recreational purposes in Texas is extremely prohibited by state law. The same applies to edibles. The use of edibles comes with harsh penalties such as jail time. In Texas, possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days of jail time and/or a maximum fine of $2,000.

Texas Marijuana Laws in 2022

Texas Legislature has introduced several bills towards regulating and reforming marijuana in the 2021 legislative session. The most notable is the one that seeks to expand the state's low-THC medical cannabis program, code-named HB 1535. It was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbot and will go into effect on September 1, 2021. This bill will increase the current 0.5% THC cap on medical marijuana to 1%. It will also expand the medical cannabis program to include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and all forms of cancer in addition to existing qualifying medical conditions. Others include:

HB 1694

This bill amends the Texas Controlled Act to establish a defense to prosecution for a jail felony for persons who possess marijuana and other controlled substances in the amount of less than 1 gram. The defense to prosecution is available only if such persons were the first to call for emergency medical assistance resulting from an overdose and remained on the scene until the arrival of medical support. It does not apply if a peace officer was in the process of arresting a person at the time of requesting medical assistance or the person is committing another offense. A person previously convicted under the dangerous drugs provision and abusable volatile chemicals or acquitted in a previous proceeding under Texas Controlled Substance Act is not eligible for this defense. This bill will become effective on September 1, 2021.

HB 169

This bill amends the Health and Safety Code to reduce the penalty for possession of less than 1 gram of a controlled substance, including marijuana, from a state jail felony to a Class A misdemeanor. HB 169 decreases the punishment for possessing 2 ounces or less of marijuana from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class C misdemeanor and removes the penalty enhancement for committing that offense in certain drug-free zones.

HB 3772

HB 3772 reduces the penalty for the possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class C misdemeanor. It also removes the penalty enhancement for the commission of such offenses in certain drug-free zones. HB 3771 amends the Code of Criminal Procedure to provide for the expunction of certain records anyone charged with the possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana or the Class C misdemeanor offense of the use or possession of drug paraphernalia and who makes a written request under oath under the following conditions:

  • The person was acquitted of the offense
  • The complaint was dismissed, and at least 180 days have elapsed from the date f the dismissal or at least one year has elapsed from the citation date.

HB441

This legislation would reduce the possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class C misdemeanor, punishable only by a fine of up to $500. The bill would require law enforcement to issue a citation to a person charged with a Class C misdemeanor cannabis possession or possession of drug paraphernalia offense instead of arresting them. HB 441 would also allow the expunction of records related to these two offenses if the defendant was acquitted or such charges were dismissed.

HB 2593

This bill would classify any tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) different from marijuana and synthetic THC products into Penalty Group 2-B, a new controlled substance category. It would also reduce the criminal penalties by volume for possession of these substances to make them more proportional to the offense.

HB 1108

HB 1108 amends the Health and Safety Code to require that a person pass a criminal history background check to be issued a license to operate a dispensary under the Texas Compassionate-Use Act. Generally, it is inappropriate for a person to fail the background check simply because of a prior conviction for a low-level offense on marijuana possession. The bill seeks to ensure that a previous sentence of or placement on deferred adjudication community supervision for such an offense does not hinder an individual from passing the criminal history background check under the Texas Compassionate-Use Act.

HB 447

This bill seeks to legalize marijuana use, transport, and growing for persons over 21 years in Texas. It would prohibit the arrest of people for marijuana use and, at the most, impose a minimal fine. Also, HB 447 provides a framework for the marijuana business in the state by creating licensure and distribution procedures.

SB 140

SB 140 seeks to legalize the use of marijuana fully for all purposes (medical or recreational) in the state for persons 21 years or older. It intends to create a standard cannabis industry and regulatory laws geared towards the control of marijuana and avoid use by minors. SB 104 would place a 10% tax on the sale of marijuana, a step to generate more revenue for Texas' dwindling economy.

How the Legal Sale of Cannabis in Texas happens

Texas has a law making CBD legal in the state. Currently, this law allows the sale of low-level THC products. Popular CBD products that retailers sell legally in the Texas market include CBD oil, CBD concentrates, CBD edibles, CBD ointment, CBD beverages, and CBD creams. These products must have under 0.3% THC and are derived from hemp.

Texans who are registered under the Compassionate-Use Program can purchase CBD oil at a licensed dispensary. The sale of CBD oil in Texas also happens online. Buyers can purchase this product online and have them delivered to their doors, provided they are derived from hemp. Texans should pay attention to a few things to ensure they are buying safe CBD oil. These include the hemp source, third-party testing, and the extraction process.

Persons who intend to relieve stress and anxiety, pains, and aches or improve their overall wellness can get CBD products from various dispensaries across Texas. However, users must engage their physicians and use a medical marijuana card to avoid violating state CBD oil laws if they require the product to resolve medical issues. In Texas, the Department of State Health Services issues licenses to retailers and distributors of CBD products. It regulates the sale of CBD oil derived from hemp. Similarly, local jurisdictions in the state regulate the sale of CBD products but cannot prohibit the sale of these products.

Penalties for Marijuana-related crimes in Texas

Texas has some of the severest penalties for marijuana and the highest number of marijuana-related arrests. Generally, the possession and sale of any amount of marijuana are illegal in the state, and the possible punishments differ by the amount sold or possessed. Texas classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance and sees no medical value in using it, except for low-THC cannabidiol oils. There are increased penalties for marijuana offenses committed in drug-free zones. These include playgrounds, schools, and youth centers.

In Texas, the penalties for marijuana-related crimes depend on the amount of marijuana in an offender's possession, the intended purpose of having illegal marijuana, and whether or not an offender has been previously charged with a crime. The potential penalties for varying types of marijuana crimes in Texas include:

Marijuana Possession and Cultivation

  • Up to 2 ounces is a misdemeanor punishable by 180 days jail time and a maximum fine of $2,000
  • Between 2 and 4 ounces is a misdemeanor punishable by one year jail time and a maximum fine of $4,000
  • Between 4 ounces and 5 pounds of marijuana is a felony punishable by between 180 days to two years imprisonment and a maximum of $10,000
  • Between 5 and 50 pounds is a felony is punishable by between two to ten years and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • Between 50 and 2,000 pounds of marijuana is a felony punishable by two to 20 years prison time and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • More than 2,000 pounds is a felony that attracts a jail time of between five and 99 years and a maximum fine of $50,000

Hash and Concentrates

Every possession and manufacture of Hash and concentrates of any amount is a felony in Texas. The possible penalties are:

  • Possession of less than 1 gram is punishable by between 180 days and two years prison time and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • Possession of 1 to 4 grams is punishable by between 2 to 10 years and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • Possession of between 4 to 400 grams is punishable by between 3 to 20 years and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • Possession of more than 400 grams is punishable by a minimum of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $50,000. Offenders may get life imprisonment.
  • Manufacture or delivery of less than 1 gram attracts a punishment of between 180 days to 2 years jail time and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • Manufacture or delivery of between 1 gram and 4 grams is punishable by 2 to 20 years and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • Manufacture or delivery of between 4 to 400 grams is punishable by 5 to 99 years jail time and a maximum of $10,000
  • Manufacture or delivery of more than 400 grams is punishable by a minimum of 10 years prison time and may face life imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000

Marijuana Sales and Distribution

  • 7 grams or less (Sharing as a gift) is a misdemeanor punishable by 180 days jail time and a maximum fine of $2,000
  • 7 grams or less (sale and distribution) is a misdemeanor punishable by one year prison time and a maximum fine of $4,000
  • Between 7 grams and 5 pounds is a felony punishable by 180 days to 2 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • Between 5 to 50 pounds is a felony punishable by 2 to 20 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • Between 50 to 2,000 pounds is a felony that attracts 5 to 99 years jail time and a maximum fine of $10,000

Marijuana Paraphernalia

  • Possession is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $500
  • Sale (first offense) is a misdemeanor punishable by one year of prison time and a maximum fine of $4,000
  • Sale (subsequent offense) is a felony punishable by 90days to 1 year and a maximum fine of $4,000
  • Possession by a minor is a felony punishable by between 180 days and two years prison time and a maximum fine of $10,000

Driving Under The Influence Of Marijuana

First conviction attracts a $2,000 maximum fine, 72 hours to 180 days of prison time, up to 12 months driver's license suspension, and between 24 to 100 hours of community service.

Second-time convicts face a maximum fine of $4,000, between 180 days to two years driver's license suspension, between 80 to 200 hours of community service, and 72 hours to 12 months jail time.

Third or subsequent conviction attracts a maximum fine of $10,000, two to ten years jail time, between 180 days to two years license suspension, and 160 to 600 hours of community service.

What is Texas's Cannabis History?

Following the cannabis ban by El Paso (the first city to ban marijuana in the United States) in 1915, Texas in 1919, restricted marijuana across the entire state to prescription-based use along with all other narcotics. At that time, the state set a limit on who could use cannabis and why they must use it. In 1931, Texas moved to a stage where getting life imprisonment for marijuana possession (any amount) conviction was possible. However, in 1973, HB 447, an amendment to the law that recommended life imprisonment, was signed into law. Beginning from that point, possession of 4 ounces or less of cannabis became equivalent to a misdemeanor. In 2007, HB 2391 enabled a law enforcement officer to cite and release a person for cannabis possession of not more than 4 ounces.

Texas started a new marijuana phase in June 2015, when Governor Greg Abbot signed the Compassionate Use Act, allowing qualifying medical patients to consume low-THC CBD oil for medical purposes. The Act is restrictive legislation that lists only a few medical conditions as qualified for marijuana treatment. In 2015, State Representative David Simpson proposed the legalization of recreational marijuana through HB 2165, which got overwhelming support. However, the measure did not sail through to the legislative floor. In 2017, Texans clamored for medical and recreational marijuana legalization via an online petition, a cause that garnered almost 40,000 petitioner's signatures. HB 1325 made the cultivation of hemp containing less than 0.3% THC and the possession and sale of compliant hemp-derived products legal in Texas.

As of 2021, the demand for marijuana legalization in the state continues to rise. Several marijuana-related bills targeted at legalizing cannabis are circulating in the Texas Legislature. For instance, HB 567, filed by Rep. James Frank, Candy Noble, Gene Wu, Keith Bell, and Harold Dutton Jr., in November 2020, and sent to Governor Abbot on May 4, 2021, passed the governor's action stage, having gone unsigned for ten days. It will become effective by September 1, 2021. The legislation protects the parental rights of any Texan who has been prescribed low-THC cannabis for medical purposes or who has administered low-THC cannabis to their child for medical reasons. It guarantees that Child Protective Services cannot remove a child from their home even if a parent tests positive for low amounts of THC or administers low doses of THC to the child, or both. Other bills such as HB 307, SB 90, and HB 43 seek to decriminalize marijuana significantly. Similarly, HJR 11 and HJR 13 aim to amend the Texas Constitution to permit marijuana use by allowing the Texas voting public to decide.

What are Restrictions on Cannabis in Texas?

The restrictions on cannabis in Texas include:

  1. Recreational use of cannabis is still illegal. Possession of even a small amount can land an offender in jail.
  2. Only medical patients in the registry who have been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition by an authorized physician can purchase and use medical cannabis (CBG oil) legally from licensed medical dispensaries.
  3. Medical marijuana (CBD oil) possession limits are set by attending physicians and usually specified in a medical patient's prescriptions.
  4. Texas prohibits the home cultivation of marijuana.
  5. It is illegal to move marijuana in and out of Texas. Also, using marijuana on federal properties in the state is a federal crime.
Texas Marijuana Laws