In January, the 87th Texas State Legislature will convene. Bills have already started flooding the docket for the legislature, with many bills related to cannabis already being pre-filed.
Many Texas legislators are hoping Texas will join the states that have legalized cannabis. These bills don’t simply focus on legalization. There are also bills that seek to make medical cannabis legal in the state and to decriminalize marijuana.
Here is a rundown of a few of the bills that the new legislature will be considering and what they could mean for the great state of Texas.
The Current State of Cannabis in Texas
In Texas, marijuana is currently illegal in any form, and reform of these policies is slow going. There is no ballot initiative in Texas as there are in other states such as California, so changes must be made through the legislative process.
The Texas legislature currently meets only every two years for 140 days, which may explain why so many bills relating to the decriminalization, medical use of, and legalization of marijuana have been filed before the session even begins.
Marijuana Possession Penalties
Penalties for possession of marijuana in Texas are quite steep at the moment. If you are personally found in possession of two ounces of marijuana flower, then you can be charged with a misdemeanor that could land you up to six months in jail. If you’re found with four ounces, then it’s mandatory jail time of a minimum of six months.
Current Penalty Enhancements
If you are caught with marijuana near a school or with anyone under the age of 18 involved, there are sentence enhancements to face – and all drug offenses in Texas can result in the suspension of your driver’s license.
The only caveat to the tough marijuana laws in Texas is the use of low-THC/high-CBD products for medical patients who qualify.
Decriminalization of Marijuana
Decriminalization of marijuana possession is one of the things being sought in the new legislature. In general, that means that a person caught with a certain amount will not be arrested, sent to jail, or have a criminal record for first-time possession.
Marijuana is treated much like a minor traffic violation in states that have decriminalized it. And there are several bills that seek to either reduce penalties or to altogether decriminalize it, including:
This would decriminalize the possession of two ounces or less of marijuana.
This bill seeks to reduce the criminal penalties for possession and delivery of marijuana and marijuana concentrate.
This bill seeks to decriminalize certain drug paraphernalia possession and marijuana possession, imposing a fee in place of criminal prosecution.
This bill opposes the enforcement or enactment in the state of a law that automatically suspends the driver’s license of those convicted of certain offenses such as possession of marijuana.
Medical Cannabis Bills
Many states have made it legal for certain groups of people to access medical cannabis. In those states, doctors can recommend marijuana as a treatment for a variety of conditions that the state has agreed are eligible, such as cancer or glaucoma. Texas bills that are working to legalize medical cannabis in the state include:
This bill related to the authorization of the use, possession, distribution, cultivation, delivery, and transportation of medical cannabis for use by medical patients with eligible conditions.
This bill relates to the authorization of the use, possession, distribution, cultivation, delivery, and transportation of medical cannabis to patients who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It also addresses the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries and fees associated with it.
Legalization of Marijuana
Finally, there are a few bills that seek to legalize the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes.
In general, these legalization-of-marijuana bills seek to remove all penalties that have been imposed by the state government.
In many cases, this also paves the way for growing marijuana in your own home legally and selling marijuana. The proposed bills addressing the legalization of marijuana are:
This bill addresses the sale, manufacture, cultivation, distribution, possession, use, and testing of cannabis and cannabis products in the state, authorizing taxes and fees on it. It also suggests that the requirement of an occupational license for dealing with marijuana and criminal offenses relating to ignoring the licensure.
This bill is similar to HB 447 but goes a step further in addressing border security and the creation of a fund to pay for projects that enhance it.
About the Author:
Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth. He has been recognized for his work by Expertise (Best Criminal Defense Lawyers in Forth Worth and Best DUI Lawyers in Fort Worth, both 2020), The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.