Generally speaking, Texas marijuana laws are some of the strictest state marijuana laws in the nation. Earlier this year, however, the Texas state legislature voted to pass a proposed bill that would permit and expand the use of medical marijuana for patients who qualified for a medical condition that required cannabis as part of their medical treatment plan. That law went into effect in September of 2021.
As for the recreational use of marijuana in the state of Texas, there are still no bills on the horizon to fully legalize cannabis in Texas. As such, aside from those who have a valid prescription for medical marijuana use in the state, a resident cannot use, sell, or grow cannabis in Texas. The Texas legislature classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 under its own drug category scheme. Thus, you could go to jail for possession of cannabis in Texas.
Specifically, a person can face up to a $2,000 fine and may receive a jail sentence of 180 days if convicted of simple possession. Simple possession of under two ounces of cannabis is charged as a class B misdemeanor in Texas. On the other hand, a person who is found in possession of over four ounces of cannabis will be charged with a felony. If convicted, that person will automatically be required to serve a minimum jail sentence of 180 days.
In addition, Texas state laws also make it illegal to grow, sell, possess, drive under the influence of, and sell or own drug paraphernalia associated with cannabis. Anyone who is charged and convicted of such marijuana crimes in Texas may face significant criminal and civil fines, along with a potential prison sentence.
The type of punishment that a convicted defendant receives will depend on a number of factors, such as:
- The facts of their particular case;
- The quantity of marijuana with which they were caught; and
- The local rules in the Texas county where the charges are filed.
Despite the fact that marijuana is illegal in Texas, certain counties within the state have started relaxing their local laws. For instance, in March of 2021, the police in Dallas stated that they would stop charging individuals who were in possession of less than two ounces of cannabis unless other factors were present (e.g., carrying a firearm). Two other Texas counties that have seen a reduction in penalties for cannabis crimes are Austin and Plano.
As is evident from the above discussion, it is very important that Texas state residents remain informed about the most recent state marijuana laws; especially, those that are passed within their own Texas county. For anyone who is unsure of the latest weed laws in Texas and are facing charges of possession, they should speak to a Texas criminal lawyer in their county immediately since they could potentially be looking at jail time.
What About Giving a Baggie to a Friend?
An individual cannot “gift” a baggie of either recreational or medical marijuana to a friend in the state of Texas. This conduct is still considered to be illegal under state laws, but may not be accompanied with as strict of penalties depending on the Texas county wherein a person is charged and convicted of engaging in such an activity. Thus, a person who transfers cannabis to another person in Texas can face the same penalties as they would for simple possession.
Given the current legislation on medical marijuana laws in Texas, it should also be noted that this type of conduct is not permitted even if both friends are registered as medical marijuana users. This is because medical marijuana prescriptions are tailored to each individual person. Therefore, a person can be charged with simple possession, which could result in a jail sentence and up to a $2,000 fine if they are convicted.
In addition, a person may also be charged with constructive possession under Texas laws just by knowing that they are in the proximity of marijuana (medical or not) and having the ability to maintain control over it. Thus, it is very important that medical marijuana users be conscious of others who are near or know where their medical marijuana is stashed. Otherwise, this could lead to a friend or a family member being charged with possession.
What About Other Sales?
As mentioned above, the Texas law on the use and expansion of medical marijuana just went into effect in early September of this year. While persons who have a valid prescription for medical marijuana can now purchase and use it in accordance with the rules outlined in the Texas state medical marijuana program, it is illegal for a private state resident to sell or grow marijuana, even if they have a valid prescription to use marijuana for a medical condition.
Instead, the only persons in Texas who can sell and grow medical marijuana are those who hold licenses to grow, sell, and produce medical marijuana under the state program. As of this year, only three companies in Texas have been approved to do so. Whether the state of Texas will see an increase in legalized medical marijuana sales will depend on other legislation and if the current restrictions on the program are further reduced.
I am a Legal User of Medical Marijuana in my State. Can I Bring It into Texas?
In general, transportation of marijuana across state lines is a federal crime. The reason for this is because both medical and recreational marijuana are considered to be illegal substances under federal law. Additionally, not every state has legalized the use of medical or recreational marijuana. Therefore, a person could face charges for both federal and state drug crimes if they transport marijuana across state lines.
Specifically, the state of Texas does not currently have reciprocity regulations regarding other states’ medical marijuana programs. According to the recently enacted law, a person must be a permanent resident of Texas in order to purchase and use medical marijuana.
Thus, despite the fact that it is legal for some patients who reside within the state of Texas, the Texas laws on medical marijuana are still relatively strict when compared to the medical marijuana laws in other states.
Do I Need a Texas Lawyer?
As previously discussed, the state of Texas has some of the most stringent marijuana laws in the United States. Although the Texas legislature has yet to decriminalize or legalize marijuana for recreational purposes, this area of the law has generally been moving rather quickly on a yearly basis. As such, it is possible that at some point in the near future Texas state laws will relax enough to permit marijuana use for recreational purposes as well.
Accordingly, it is important to stay on top of news regarding the use and possession of cannabis in Texas state. For now, however, if you have any questions or are facing charges for recreational possession of marijuana in Texas, then it may be in your best interest to consult with a Texas drug lawyer in your county as soon as possible.
A Texas drug lawyer who has experience with handling cases involving state marijuana crimes will already be familiar with the most recent set of Texas cannabis laws and thus will be able to swiftly interpret and apply them to your current matter.
Your lawyer will also be able to review the charges against you and can determine if there are any relevant defenses that you can raise based upon their findings. In addition, they will be able to provide legal representation in criminal court and/or at a conference to work out a plea deal with the prosecution.
Finally, if you have any questions regarding the latest Texas marijuana laws, your lawyer will also be able to apprise you of any recent changes to the laws and can explain how they may affect the outcome of your criminal case as well as your rights as a Texas criminal defendant.