Is Marijuana Legal in Texas in 2023?
As the wave of marijuana legalization sweeps across the United States, many look to the Lone Star State with one pressing question. What is Texas’s stance on cannabis in 2023?
Currently, recreational cannabis is illegal in Texas, with medical marijuana allowed under strict provisions. Historically, Texas has taken a conservative approach to marijuana legislation. However, with changing public opinions, economic considerations, and shifting political landscapes, the future status is positioned to change.
This article delves into the intricacies of Texas’s marijuana laws, the driving forces behind any recent changes, and what the future might hold for cannabis enthusiasts and patients in Texas.
What Constitutes Marijuana Possession in Texas
Marijuana possession in Texas involves knowingly or intentionally having any amount of usable marijuana, with additional penalties for intentionally growing or planning to sell THC-containing cannabis.
These laws are in accordance with Federal regulations that list cannabis as a Schedule I drug. Generally, changes in Texas law follow precedents set by Federal law rather than precedents set by other states.
While the penalties increase depending on the amount, ‘usable’ cannabis can be any amount that can create psychoactive effects. These penalties apply for all types of cannabis, although more flexible laws have recently been enacted to allow for some medical marijuana use.
How Does Texas Law Differentiate Recreational, Medical, CBD, and Hemp?
The Texas laws for cannabis primarily regulate delta-9 THC, the primary psychoactive compound responsible for marijuana’s effects. In the past, all parts of the cannabis plant were considered ‘usable marijuana.’
However, in 2015, Texas enacted the Compassionate-Use Act, which allowed strict provisions for the use of medical marijuana for specific cases, such as epilepsy. This law redefined cannabis by its THC content and manufacturable use to promote hemp cultivation while allowing for particular instances where low-THC products could be used for medical purposes.
This law and its additions in 2019 and 2021 redefined cannabis in the following ways:
- Hemp: Any part of the plant or its derivatives that contains less than 0.3% THC. Amounts below this threshold are considered ‘trace’ and are legal in Texas.
- CBD: CBD, a non-psychoactive supplement, is legal as long as it is derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% THC.
- Delta-8 THC: THC refers to delta-9 THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis. Delta-8 THC is much milder in effect. Like CBD, delta-8 cannabis derived from hemp with less than 0.3% delta-9 THC is legal.
- Medical Marijuana: In Texas, cannabis with THC between 0.3% and 0.99% is legal for medical purposes. Any amount above 1% THC is illegal for any purpose in Texas.
- Amounts within this threshold must be approved by a physician and the patient must be a permanent state resident with a qualifying condition.
- Recreational Marijuana: Marijuana containing more than 1% delta-9 THC is illegal in all parts of Texas, following federal legal guidelines.
When in doubt, consider the percentage of Δ-9 THC in a product. If the amount exceeds 0.3%, it is subject to penalty in Texas.
What are the Penalties for Marijuana Possession in Texas
Possessing cannabis with more than trace amounts of THC is considered a misdemeanor in Texas. The severity of the charge depends on the actual amount found on your person and the legal defense you have for possessing marijuana.
The legal punishment for possession of THC-containing cannabis is as follows:
- Class B Misdemeanor: Less than 2 oz. Up to $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail.
- Class A Misdemeanor: 2-4 oz. Up to $4000 fine and one year in jail.
- Jail Felony: 4 oz – 5 lbs. Up to $10,000 fine and 2 years in jail.
- 3rd Degree Felony: 5-50 lbs. Up to $10,000 fine and 10 years in jail.
- 2nd Degree Felony: 50-2,000 lbs. Up to $10,000 fine and 20 years in jail.
- 1st Degree Felony: 2000+ lbs. Up to $50,000 fine and Life Sentence.
The degree of severity of these punishments scales with the intent to grow and distribute possessed weed. Amounts over two ounces are far more than an individual could reasonably consume.
Juveniles and first-time offenders may avoid significant jail time with the proper legal defense by participating in a diversion or drug treatment program. Repeat offenders can face much more severe terms regardless of the amount on their person but can still receive fair treatment with an appropriate legal defense.
When Will Cannabis Become Legal in Texas?
With 23 states legalizing cannabis for recreational use and many more allowing the sale of medical marijuana, you may be wondering when cannabis will become fully legalized in Texas.
Currently, there’s no way to know when cannabis will attain the legal status of many of Texas’ neighbors. Still, the shifting attitude of the substance nation- and state-wide indicates that laws will become more accommodating in the coming years.
While state public opinion is divided, amendments to the Texas legislature in the past 10 years suggest that individuals and politicians are accepting the possibility of legalization much more than in previous decades.
Here’s a timeline of events in the past decade to demonstrate the rapid changes occurring in our state:
- 2015: The Compassionate-Use Act allowed low-THC (<0.3%) cannabis possession.
- 2019: A bill is passed to reduce penalties associated with possessing low volumes of cannabis for personal use.
- 2019: A new law, HB 1325, allows legal cultivation of hemp and hemp products with trace amounts of THC.
- 2021: A new law, HB 1535, increases the threshold of medical marijuana from 0.5% to 1%.
While it may seem like full legalization is out of the question for Texas residents, recent laws suggest that change is coming consistently and rapidly. As public opinion becomes more open to cannabis, the legislature will follow to provide the fairest treatment.
If cannabis becomes legal at the federal level, Texas will likely follow suit to match the precedent set by the U.S. government, as it has in the past.
Do You Need a Texas Attorney to Assist With Marijuana Possession?
However, while public opinion regarding cannabis seems to be turning, Texas law remains strict.
If you find yourself facing legal challenges due to marijuana possession or use, it’s in your best interest to consult with a Texas attorney who specializes in marijuana laws. They will offer you the best chance at a favorable outcome and guide you through the state’s complex legal landscape.
For the best representation for possession of marijuana, contact Attorney Lee D. Cox, a specialist in drug possession law in Texas for over 20 years. Call today at 281-762-7345 for expert legal representation in Fort Bend County, Houston, and Sugar Land, Texas.
20+ Years of Experience in Criminal Defense
I began my career with the District Attorney’s office and have been in private practice focusing on criminal defense in Fort Bend and surrounding counties since 2002.