Bottom Line: All forms of recreational cannabis are illegal in Texas, as are almost all conventional forms of therapeutic cannabis. Only low-THC cannabis oil with less than 0.5% can be prescribed by doctors for qualifying patients.
What’s the Current Situation with Cannabis in Texas?
Texas has always been notorious for its harsh and uncompromising cannabis policy. Until 1973, possession of even the smallest quantities of cannabis for personal use was punishable by two years to life in jail. Today, a simple first-time possession offense could still land you in jail for up to 180 days, along with a fine of $2000 and the temporary loss of your driving license.
Medical cannabis policy in Texas is somewhat on the remedial side, exclusively providing patients with access to low-THC cannabis oil. All other therapeutic cannabis products and traditional cannabis flowers are strictly prohibited statewide.
Recreational Marijuana Laws in Texas
The only thing you really need to know about recreational cannabis in Texas is that you really don’t want to be busted with weed on your person. Across the state in its entirety, all forms of cannabis possession are criminal offences. If you are caught carrying less than 4 ounces of cannabis, you’ll be looking at a $2000 fine and up to 180 days in jail. If you’ve more than 4 ounces on your person, you could be looking at a fine of up to $50,000 and up to 99 years behind bars.
Attempts to decriminalize cannabis at a state level have been made over the years, though none have gained the necessary traction. Several jurisdictions across Texas have decriminalized cannabis at a local level, including the City of Austin and Harris County. Both of which have effectively eliminated the prospect of jail time and criminal records for small-scale possession.
What About Medical Marijuana Laws in Texas?
While Texas can technically stake claim to having a medical cannabis policy, it’s far from comprehensive. As of now, the only medical cannabis products available in Texas are cannabis oils with a THC content no higher than 0.5%, which must be prescribed by an authorized physician. CBD oils with less than 0.3% THC are also available without prescription – as is the case across the rest of the United States.
Initially, the state’s rudimentary cannabis policy was open only to patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. As of June 2019, the program was expanded to cover patients diagnosed with any of the following conditions:
Unfortunately, patients with severe conditions like these are still unable to access therapeutic cannabis or medical cannabis products in the traditional sense. The effectiveness of low-THC cannabis oil is debatable at best, due to its minimal cannabinoid content.
Are the State’s Punishments for Cannabis Crimes Really So Severe?
The short answer is yes – Texas takes things to extremes and is relentless in its approach to punishing cannabis crimes. Unless you’re in a jurisdiction where small-scale possession has been decriminalized, holding any amount of cannabis whatsoever on your person could see you in jail for up to 180 days for a first offence. Anything over 4 ounces and you face a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days in prison, though could be locked up for as long as two years.
Possession of cannabis in bigger quantities (50lbs or more) is punishable by up to 20 years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000. If you’re caught cultivating cannabis illegally, you could likewise be looking at anything from five years to 99 years in jail. The sale and distribution of cannabis is also expressly forbidden – mandatory custodial sentences being imposed for selling as little as 7g of usable cannabis. If you’re caught selling any quantity of cannabis whatsoever to a child, you’ll be looking at up to 20 years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Will Texas Legalize Recreational Cannabis?
The fact that small-scale possession is still a criminal offense in Texas tells you all you need to know about its attitude to recreational cannabis. For the time being, there is absolutely no indication that legalization or even decriminalization will happen in Texas.
Worse still, there’s unlikely to be any good news on the horizon for the many thousands of citizens statewide who could benefit from medical cannabis. Despite widespread support for improved access to a wider range of medical cannabis products, Texas seems to have no intention of amending its restrictive policy anytime soon.