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Current Legalization Status of Marijuana in Texas

It seems that the possession or cultivation of marijuana is becoming legal everywhere except Texas. Many states have reduced the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana or authorized the "recreational use" of marijuana. However, in Texas, it is still illegal to possess or use marijuana for recreational purposes, even small amounts.

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A recent attempt by the Texas legislature to reduce the penalties for possession of a small amount of marijuana did not make it through the Texas Senate. Under the current Texas laws, the only way that a person can possess marijuana is if you suffer from a specific medical condition, epilepsy, and you obtain a medical cannabis card which permits you to obtain cannabis oils to treat your medical condition. See The Texas Compassionate Use Act: https://www.texascompassionateaccess.org/texas-compassionate-use-act/

However, this limited medical usage exception has been expanded recently when Gov. Abbott signed House Bill 3703 in June of 2019. The new law will go into effect on September 1, 2019, and will allow qualified doctors to prescribe from a state licensed dispensary cannabis with up to .5% THC for patients with medical seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, terminal cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, autism and ALS.https://legiscan.com/TX/text/HB3703/2019

So what does all of this mean to you if you happen to purchase marijuana in a state where it is legal to do so and bring it back into Texas. Simply put, you could be charged with the illegal possession of marijuana and prosecuted for that offense. Depending on the amount in your possession you could be charged with a range of punishment from a misdemeanor to a felony grade offense. Some jurisdictions in Texas, such as those in Houston and Dallas, are making local decisions not to prosecute or seriously reduce the penalties for the possession of certain amounts of marijuana. However, those decisions are always subject to change as the local District Attorneys in charge of those jurisdictions come in and out of office. A new administration may decide not to look so favorably on the possession of marijuana. So ... "possessor beware!"

If you happen to smoke weed in a state in which it is legal to do so but you are subject to random drug testing for your job or other reasons once you return to Texas, you may still face negative consequences if your test turns up positive for marijuana usage. Your employer might still have the authority to terminate your employment if you have a positive test. If you are driving in Texas under the influence of marijuana you purchased and/or used in another "legal" state, you could still potentially be prosecuted for DWI in Texas. Giving weed or selling weed to someone in Texas that you purchased in a "legal" state is also illegal. Mailing it to yourself or other individuals from a "legal" state back to Texas is prohibited by state and federal laws. Marijuana possession in "edibles" form poses the same dangers.

Until all states and the federal government come to some sort of consensus on how to deal with the "legalization" of marijuana it is best to be very cautious and circumspect in your use and/or possession of weed. The laws are changing from state to state and many lawmakers and law enforcement officials are beginning to recognize that perhaps we should look at modernizing the current penalties for marijuana possession. For now though, in Texas, absent the narrow definitions for medical marijuana usage, possession of marijuana is still illegal.

Jeremy Bush