The state laws regarding marijuana possession and use have been a hot topic in both the Texas Senate and House as another Texas Legislative session draws to a close. Multiple bills have been discussed to amend current laws, and debate has ranged from varying degrees of allowable medical marijuana, to reducing the penalties for being caught with marijuana in varying quantities, but there seems to be little substantial change on the horizon—despite the heated debate.
So, be aware: Marijuana possession and use is still illegal in the state of Texas.
What’s Going On?
But, you might ask, what’s all this news about the “Texas expansion of medical cannabis”, or even the bill that would lessen penalties for small-amount possession? There’s a lot of talk out there about weed in Texas suddenly being legalized, or on the way there, but that’s a vast overstatement. The long and short of it is that multiple bills were up for discussion regarding marijuana offenses, penalties, and medical usage—but it’s all just talk right now, and nothing has changed.
From The House…
The Texas House of Representatives passed House Bill 63, which would reduce criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana possession to a maximum $500 fine for an ounce or less. However, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared this bill dead on arrival in the Senate, and as of May 22, it has not come up for floor debate and is not likely to see a favorable vote.
…To The Senate
The Texas Senate passed House Bill 3703, which is currently up for debate in the House. This bill expands the Compassionate Use Program, which currently makes medical marijuana available to those with epilepsy who meet a specific list of qualifications. The expansion would add to the list of conditions that can be legally treated with cannabis oil, including additional seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, and more. Also, the bill does put a limit on the chemical component that causes the “high” one gets from using marijuana. So, while there may be some hope about expanding the use of medical marijuana, it is important to note that such usage will have a lot of strings and qualifications attached to it, provided of course that it passes the House, and the Governor signs it.
Marijuana Possession In Texas
In Texas, it’s business as usual for now. Marijuana is still classified as a dangerous Schedule I substance, which it is a crime to possess. Less than 2 ounces of marijuana still carries a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000, and with more than four ounces you will be facing felony charges. Texas currently has one program which allows highly limited use of medical marijuana, the Texas Compassionate Use Program, but for all other intents and purposes, the drug is illegal. It’s a serious deal.
In conclusion, not much has changed. While states across the nation debate varying iterations of policy on marijuana and cannabis oil, and decriminalization efforts continue in Hawaii and Missouri, we won’t be seeing any major changes in policy here in Texas this legislative session. If there’s one important takeaway here, it’s this: Marijuana possession and use is still illegal in the state of Texas.