Texas Marijuana Laws

Key Points

  • Recreational or medical marijuana use is not legal in Texas. However, low-THC cannabis oil is permitted for medical use
  • Weed possession of any amount is illegal in Texas. Individuals who possess up to two ounces of weed may face Class B misdemeanor charges
  • The cultivation of marijuana is illegal in Texas
  • Penalties for illegal possession or cultivation of weed depend on the weight of the plant found on the offender

Is Marijuana Legal in Texas?

No, marijuana is not legal in Texas. 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.

HB 1535, which went 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%. Patients with the following medical conditions can benefit from the Compassionate-Use Program:

As of 2024, 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 in Texas 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.

A number of cities in Texas tried decriminalizing marijuana to mixed results. Lubbock is putting a decriminalization initiative on the ballot in the May 2024 special election. San Antonio voters, however, rejected marijuana decriminalization at the ballot in 2023, likely because the question was bundled with abortion decriminalization.

Texas Marijuana Laws in 2024

The Texas Legislature introduced several bills that work to regulate and reform 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 went into effect on September 1, 2021. This bill increases the current 0.5% THC cap on medical marijuana to 1%. It also expanded 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 became 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 of the dismissal or at least one year has elapsed from the citation date.

HB 441

This legislation reduces 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 requires 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 also allows the expunction of records related to these two offenses if the defendant was acquitted or such charges were dismissed.

HB 2593

This bill classifies any tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) different from marijuana and synthetic THC products into Penalty Group 2-B, a new controlled substance category. It also reduces 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 prohibits 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 by creating licensure and Texas marijuana 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 places a 10% tax on the sale of marijuana, a step to generate more revenue for Texas' dwindling economy.

In the 2023 legislative year, a number of cannabis laws have been passed in the Texas legislature to hopefully broaden access to marijuana for eligible patients and adults and a few introduced as frontrunners for eventual adult-use cannabis legalization.

HB 218

This House Bill proposed the decriminalization of certain cannabis offenses including some misdemeanors and felonies relating to possession and drug paraphernalia as well as certain THCs and synthetic cannabinoids. It also proposed the expungement of past cannabis offenses. It passed the House on April 27 with a vote of 87-59 and was sent to the Texas Senate where it was read for the first time on May 11, 2023 and subsequently referred to the State Affairs Committee.

HB 1805

Introduced on March 13, 2023, the Hill aimed to raise the THC cap on cannabis oils accessible to eligible patients in the state. It proposed replacing the limit with a cap of 10 mg volumetric dose. The bill was unanimously approved on March 20, 2023 by the House Public Health Committee and passed the House on April 11. It became law on September 1, 2023.

SB 209 and HB 1831

These twin bills were introduced in both chambers of the Texas legislature to legalize adult-use marijuana in the state and establish regulations for Texas’ recreational cannabis market. SB 209 was filed in the Senate on November 14, 2022 but read for the first time on February 15, 2023 and then referred to the Senate Committee on State Affairs. HB 1831 was filed February 3, 2023 in the House and had its first reading on March 7, 2023 before it was referred to the House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures. It was further referred to a sub-committee on April 12, 2023.

SJR 22, HJR 89, and HJR 91

These three companion bills intend to achieve full legalization of cannabis in Texas through a constitutional amendment. SJR 22 was filed on November 14, 2022 and read for the first time in the Senate on February 15, 2023 and then referred to the Criminal Justice Committee. HJR 89 was filed on January 15, 2023 while HJR 91 was filed on the next day. Both had their first readings on March 3, 2023 and were referred to the House Committee on State Affairs.

Timeline of Cannabis Law in Texas

  • 1931: Marijuana possession of any amount became a felony crime and offenders may face life imprisonment sentence.
  • 1973: This year marks the beginning of marijuana decriminalization with the passing of HB 447. The new rule makes possession of cannabis below 2 ounces a Class B misdemeanor while carrying more than 2 ounces may lead to a six-month jail sentence. Offenders caught with more than 4 ounces will be charged with felony.
  • 2007: The 2007 cite and release policy mandates immediate release for residents caught with up to 4 ounces of cannabis. Under this policy, law enforcement agencies in Texas can only give the offender a citation to appear in court and allow them to go. However, offenders will face the same penalties in court.
  • 2015: The passing of Texas's Compassionate-Use Act legalizes low-THC cannabis possession and use. However, only individuals who meet the qualifying conditions set in the Act can use CBD oil in 2015.
  • 2019: A bill to further decriminalize low-level cannabis possession fails in the Texas Senate despite approval from the Texas House. The bill would have reduced charges for possession below 1 ounce from a Class B misdemeanor to Class C.
  • 2019: The newly enacted law, HB 1325, allows legal cultivation of low-THC (<0.3% THC) industrial hemp. Additionally, it makes it lawful to own and sell CBD products made from hemp without a doctor's prescription.
  • 2021: Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, signs HB 1535 into law. The new law will increase the amount of THC permitted in marijuana products from 0.5 percent to 1% and expand the list of qualifying ailments to include all types of cancer and PTSD.

Federal Legalization of Weed in 2024

Marijuana use in the US has been illegal since the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Today, federal legalization across the country is more imminent as several states have legalized weed for medical and recreational use. The first move to decriminalize cannabis was in 2020 when the US House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. The Act aims to:

  • Remove cannabis from the Schedule 1 drugs listed under the Controlled Substances Act
  • Eliminate penalties for federal cannabis crimes
  • Expunge past cannabis convictions

Although the Senate refused to give the MORE Act in 2020, the Act was filed and passed again in 2022. If enacted into law, the 2022 MORE Act will, in addition to the three main aim:

  • Allow other states to create their regulatory policies without federal restrictions.
  • Protect non-citizens from immigration repercussions due to cannabis use and possession.
  • Prevent federal agencies from denying eligible candidates access to student financial aid, federal benefits, or government jobs due to marijuana use.
  • Fund community social services affected by the long years of war on drugs through a 5% federal excise tax on marijuana sales.

In a bid to decriminalize marijuana, the US President issued a marijuana reform executive order in October 2022. The executive action will:

  • Provide certificates of pardon to eligible persons convicted of federal marijuana laws.
  • Permit other state governors to carry out state reforms on marijuana decriminalization.
  • Review, through the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General, how cannabis is scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act.

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 went 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 PTSD, 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 2022, 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.

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 containing up to 1% THC 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 most severe 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 In Texas

  • 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

Marijuana Consumption In Texas

The use and possession of illegal in Texas. Penalties for consumption depend on the weight of the cannabis and location. Generally, offenders may face severe penalties if caught for consumption in the premises close to school facilities and playgrounds. Penalties for consumption in such premises often increase by one level from the initial charges. charges. This means an individual caught with less than 2 ounces close to a school (within 1000 feet away) will get a Class A misdemeanor rather than a Class B penalty.

Hash And Concentrates In Texas

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 2 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 $100,000

Possession With Intent To Distribute In Texas

Selling illegal cannabis products is considered Texas marijuana trafficking. Typical penalties of possession with intent to distribute include:

  • 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 In Texas

  • 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 90 days to 1 year and a maximum fine of $4,000

Driving Under The Influence Of Marijuana In Texas

The 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.

The 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.

Other additional marijuana limitations in Texas include:

  • Sale to a minor is a felony punishable by between 180 days and two years prison time and a maximum fine of $10,000
  • Falsifying a drug test or having the intention of drug test falsification is a Class B misdemeanor that is punished by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of no more than $2,000.

Confiscation Of Assets In Texas

Offenders convicted for marijuana violations under the Texas Controlled Substances Act may risk losing their assets, if found that the assets were used to carry out the crime. Assets used to commit an offense are regarded as contrabands. Examples of these assets that may be confiscated by the state include money made from drug sales or property used to cultivate marijuana.

Possible Remedies For Violators Of Texas Marijuana Laws

Texas law prohibits marijuana use or possession; however, violators can get their marijuana charges dropped by hiring a good defense lawyer. Generally, first-time offenders charged with simple marijuana possession violations are less likely to go to jail. The Texas Drug Court Program allows first-time violators of marijuana laws to participate in supervised drug treatment services and get their charges dropped. Completing the programs typically last between one year and eighteen months and includes therapy under judicial supervision. Each county establishes its selection criteria and program requirements. This means that each county has distinct eligibility conditions. The general requirements for violators include the following:

  • Criminal charges involving simple marijuana possession or other low-level marijuana charges
  • Plead guilty to the criminal charges.
  • First-time offense; some counties also allow second-time offenders
  • Complete counseling
  • Attend drug recovery groups
  • Complete regular drug testing
  • Regular attendance for court hearings

Cannabis possession offenders who meet the criteria and successfully fulfill the drug court obligations may ask the court to dismiss the charges. The offenders' criminal records are cleared if the court concurs and dismisses the charges. If the court does not permit an expunction, such individuals may get a court order of nondisclosure, which hides their criminal history from the public.

There are other possible remedies for defendants of violating Texas marijuana laws if they do not qualify for the drug diversion programs.Violators can get their lawyers to negotiate lesser charges with the prosecutor. Alternatively, offenders can go ahead to fight your case in court. Keep in mind that a cannabis possession arrest does not automatically mean the alleged violator is guilty. However, with the help of an attorney, alleged cannabis offenders can use the following defense strategy to get their case dropped or reduced to a lesser crime:

  • Claim that the search carried out by the local arresting officer was unconstitutional and that there wasn't a good justification to search the vehicle. This may involve a violation of the offender's Fourth Amendment rights; thus, the prosecutor cannot use any evidence uncovered due to the unauthorized search in court.
  • Argue that there is insufficient evidence to support the assertion that the substance found in your possession is an illicit substance.
  • Re-weighing the substances to ensure accuracy is one way to reduce the marijuana charge. This way, charges may drop from felony to misdemeanor, depending on the weight of the substance.

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 2024, 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 became effective on 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, HB 218, and HB 43 seek to decriminalize marijuana significantly. Similarly, HJR 11 and HJR 13, as well as SJR 22, HJR 89, and HJR 91 introduced in 2023, 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 (CBD 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.
In this section:
Texas Marijuana Laws