Is Weed Legal in Texas? | Marijuana Legalization

Is recreational marijuana legal in Texas? Is Medical Marijuana legal in Texas? What about CBD? Find out in this article.

Texas is home to many things; there's Austin – the live music capital of the world, there's the Dallas Cowboys, and Texas is even the birthplace of Dr. Pepper.

Though in 2020, there's a question asked of nearly every city, state, and country by endless amounts of tourists; is weed legal here?

Understandably, the legal cannabis landscape is continually evolving, and this can make it hard to keep up. For example, hemp cultivation only became legal in the U.S. two years ago, and since then we've seen the momentous rise of the hemp-derived cannabinoid known as CBD – cannabidiol.

We then have states like Hawaii who recently decriminalized the plant, states like Illinois who are making a killing off recreational weed sales, and countries like Italy, New Zealand and Mexico who are each giving cannabis legalization serious consideration.

So what about Texas? Can you spark up on the streets? Can your doctor prescribe you medicinal marijuana?

Let's find out.

Is recreational cannabis legal in Texas?

Cannabis is recreationally legal in 11 U.S. states, however, Texas isn't one of them. In fact, Texas has historically had some of the strictest laws of any U.S. state when it comes to cannabis.

In 1915 El Paso, the Texan city, became the first American city to restrict cannabis. by 1931, cannabis possession of any amount had been made illegal statewide. Cannabis was labeled a narcotic at the time, and those found in possession of the plant risked facing life imprisonment.

Texas's extremely strict approach to cannabis legislation was loosened in 1973 when House Bill 447 was passed, which reduced the penalties associated with cannabis possession for up to two ounces, to a fine of up to $1000 and a prison sentence of up to 180 days.

Unfortunately for cannabis enthusiasts, the passage of House Bill 447 has remained unchanged even to this day, leaving cannabis in the shadows of illegality.

There have been two attempts to legalize cannabis for recreational consumption, once in 2015 when state representative David Simpson introduced House Bill 2165, and again in 2019 with the House Bill 63. Both times, the bill gained support from members of the House, however, they were both blocked before entering the senate.

While Texas certainly isn't pushing any envelopes when it comes to its cannabis laws, on a municipal level there has been several instances of de-facto cannabis decriminalization in which certain cities and county's no longer arrest citizens for marijuana possession, and instead opt for fines or drug education courses.

The number of misdemeanor marijuana possession cases filed in Texas

A large contributing factor to the decrease in arrests for marijuana possession in Texas stems from the State's legalization of hemp in June 2019. While hemp was made federally legal thanks to the Farm Bill of 2018, Texan Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a Bill that brought Texan laws in line with federal hemp laws.

Upon doing so, it became very difficult to differentiate marijuana from hemp, and the Texan government has had to effectively stop penalizing people for marijuana possession until there is a working test to determine THC levels of plant matter.

Is medicinal marijuana legal in Texas?

It may surprise you to know that medical marijuana is indeed legal in Texas, though in typical Texan fashion, the laws are airtight.

In 2015, the state passed the Compassionate Use Act, which allowed for the prescription of medicinal marijuana for those suffering from "intractable epilepsy."

Now, here's the rub; in order to be prescribed medicinal cannabis, you must first be a permanent resident of Texas. You must also have attempted to treat your condition with two other antiepileptic drugs before seeking a physicians approval. Then, a certified physician must determine that the patient's symptoms warrant medicinal cannabis use, which a second physician must also concur with.

Once you've completed this arduous journey, assuming you've ticked off all of these boxes, you may then be prescribed "low-THC cannabis" that must contain 0.5% THC or less.

To put this in perspective, hemp containing up to 0.3% THC is already federally legal throughout the United States, which means you may go through all of these obstacles simply to gain an extra 0.2% THC than what you could purchase freely online.

In short, while medicinal marijuana is technically legal in Texas, if you truly need it, you're better off looking in another state.

Related Article

Is Weed Legal in the US?

Is CBD legal in Texas?

As stringent as Texas' laws are surrounding cannabis, CBD is legal throughout not only Texas but throughout the entirety of the United States, again thanks to the Farm Bill of 2018 which federally legalized hemp.

From this, hemp-derived CBD can be made, which has become increasingly prevalent in the United States throughout wellness, athletics, cosmetics and food products.

As mentioned earlier, in June 2019 Texas also legalized hemp on a state level to bring its laws in line with the federal laws on hemp, which is when the state began to see a big spike in CBD products and sales. Sarah Kerver, a sales rep for a CBD company trying to penetrate the Texan market, stated that thanks to the new laws, business in Texas is booming.

"There's been more media around it since Texas has come on board, definitely," Kerver said. "Texans are becoming more educated about it and much more open to it."

The issue with CBD in both Texas and the United States at large isn't so much accessibility, but rather it's quality assurance. In the past few years, CBD has taken the world by storm, thanks to claims that the compound can basically heal anything – ranging from cancer, insomnia, epilepsy, anxiety and so on.

While there is indeed an FDA approved CBD drug 'Epidiolex' used to treat epilepsy, research when it comes to most other symptoms is relatively scarce.

Furthermore, as CBD is federally legal, there is almost no regulation surrounding the industry. This leads many producers to sell products with unspecified amounts of CBD in them, while also making grandiose claims about the benefits their product can bring. This has become such a prominent issue in the U.S., that the FDA has had to step in and express their uncertainty as to the health benefits of the compound, while also confiscating CBD supplies from stores which make false or misleading claims about their products.

So there you have it, the weed laws of Texas. Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we continue to dive into the U.S. states and their stances on cannabis.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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