Today, marijuana use has been legalized in an increasing number of states and countries. While some websites claim that Texas has legalized weed for medical use, this is only partially true. If you want to stay out of trouble, you need a clear understanding of Texas marijuana laws. For example, your medical card from another state will not stop you from encountering legal trouble in Texas if you are caught possessing or growing marijuana. Here are the important details of the marijuana laws in Texas.
Texas Compassionate Use Program (CUP)
Texas drug laws are clear. It is still illegal to grow, possess, or use marijuana except for the limited use under the Texas Compassionate Use Act. In 2015 the Texas Legislature passed the Compassionate Use Act. This act, also known as Senate Bill 339, required the Department of Public Safety to create a registry for doctors who treat epilepsy so they can prescribe low-THC cannabis for use by patients who have intractable epilepsy. Senate Bill 339 also provided for a limited number of licensed dispensaries and growers. It does not allow users to grow their own.
The Texas medical use laws are more restrictive than other states. Doctors must join a physician registry before they can prescribe cannabis. Prescriptions must meet strict requirements and include dosage, means of administration, and the total amount of low-THC cannabis required to meet the patient’s needs. The weed must be obtained by one of a handful of licensed marijuana dispensaries.
In addition to a diagnosis of epilepsy, those qualified to purchase and use low-THC cannabis must also be a permanent resident of Texas. The diagnosis and recommendation must be agreed upon by two qualified physicians. The law explicitly prohibits use or purchase unless the person has a prescription written by a physician registered with the CUP program.
What qualifies as medical marijuana in Texas
Only low-THC cannabis qualifies for medicinal use. Low-THC is defined as marijuana that has no more than 1/2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and at least 10% cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana and does not produce the “high” that popularizes recreational use of weed.
Penalties for breaking Texas marijuana laws
The laws on weed in Texas are tougher than many expect. Possession and cultivation laws carry stiff sentences. Texas currently has four classifications for drugs, each with different penalties. Marijuana has its own penalty group. Synthetic cannabinoids such as Spice and K2 are in the same group.
Cannabinols are derived from cannabis and are considered to be hallucinogens. They are part of the penalty 2 group of laws which covers all cannabis products, as well as MDMA, hashish and PCP. According to Texas drug laws 2018, marijuana possession is punishable based on the quantity on hand.
Even small amounts of marijuana can result in jail time. Small amounts of marijuana, typically under two ounces, are a class B misdemeanor. Sentences run up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Possession of derivatives carries a stiffer sentence of up to two years. The judge can order you into a treatment or diversion program. You can also lose your driver’s license.
Larger quantities come with stiffer prison sentences. Possession of 2-4 ounces is a Class A misdemeanor and can result in up to ten years of prison time. 4 ounces to five pounds is a State felony. Charges increase with greater quantities. Also, you run the risk of being accused and convicted of drug trafficking which carries sentences of up to life in prison and fines up to $50,000.
Should you take the risk?
Many states have eliminated or reduced the penalties for marijuana possession. However, weed is still illegal in Texas, and use carries the risk of significant jail time and fines. Those who are caught in possession of marijuana without a valid medical prescription can face serious consequences. When you consider that the risks of a conviction go beyond fines and jail time, you may want to leave that weed in your home state.
Keep in mind that even in states where marijuana is legal, even medical use is still against federal law. While few properly prescribed users of medical marijuana are arrested and charged, it is still possible. This is especially true if you are traveling between states or on aircraft.
A conviction is on your record forever. Any time you apply for a job, or seek out a place to rent, there is a chance that your criminal record will interfere. This is far more serious if you have a felony conviction. A felony conviction is grounds to deny a number of professional licenses. Thus your dream career may no longer be open to you.
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