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 October 2022, 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.
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:
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.
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 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:
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
In a bid to decriminalize marijuana, the US President issued a marijuana reform executive order in October 2022. The executive action will:
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.
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.
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:
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.
Every possession and manufacture of hash and concentrates of any amount is a felony in Texas. The possible penalties are:
Selling illegal cannabis products is considered Texas marijuana trafficking. Typical penalties of possession with intent to distribute include:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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 2023, 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.
The restrictions on cannabis in Texas include: