Based on their smell and appearance, It is often quite difficult to differentiate between marijuana and hemp because both are derived from the same cannabis plant. The only difference lies in the fact that while marijuana is illegal, hemp is not.
In 2019, a few types of the cannabis plant were made legal by some Texas authorities. Ever since then, all across the state, marijuana prosecution cases are in total disorder and chaos, and implementation of laws differs greatly according to the residential locality.
Recently, a new Texas law was put forth and its purpose was to level the state with a federal law passed in 2018 which although legalized hemp, kept marijuana illegal. The only consequence of this action was utter chaos and confusion.
Let us see what the Texas drug laws are and when will marijuana be legal in Texas.
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Is It Legal To Be High In Texas?
The public approach towards marijuana has been constantly changing over time. However, Texas still follows some old school rules. Many states near Texas have now allowed the medicinal use of marijuana, have decriminalized minor offenses, and have gone even as far as to legitimize the recreational use of marijuana.
On the other hand, the Texas federal government still punishes marijuana violations severely. However, it has still allowed the restricted use of low-THC (the psychoactive component), high-CBD cannabis oil. Cannabis oil can only be used for medicinal purposes. Moreover, with a doctor’s advice, the THC content should be lower than 0.5% and less than 0.3% without a prescription.
However, the question then arises, is it still illegal to use or even keep marijuana according to the Texas law? The answer to this question is, yes, and it has been this way since 1931. The only difference is that now hemp is legalized and is considered to be different than marijuana.
Texas Drug Laws
The Texas drug laws are mainly based on three determinants:
- the amount of drugs found on you
- what the drug actually is
- are you a minor or not
Apart from these three main factors, there are different punishments for having or selling drugs. Moreover, even faking a drug test in Texas is considered to be a crime.
A simple possession of marijuana may also result in you having to face a lifetime in jail. Due to the drug laws in Texas, it is one of the states with the most severe punishments even for something as small as the possession of marijuana (even as less as 2 ounces). Moreover, it also has the highest arrest rates for substance crime.
In addition to this, the punishments are even more harsh if you are found with concentrates such as hash oil. You could end up with 2 years in prison if charged with such a crime.
In addition to this, according to the Texan law, minor crimes are categorized as class A, B, C offenses. Class B offenses are culpable with a penalty of up to $2,000 and/or jail for almost 180 days. The state jail crimes are also categorized as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degrees. A 1st degree crime is the most serious one with the greatest punishment.
The Texas Controlled Substance Act is responsible to differentiate between the types of drug that individuals may possess. The punishment for having drugs is then categorized into various groups. These groups include 1, 1-A, 2, 3, and 4.
When trying to know more about the Texas drug laws, you must also know that marijuana is considered to be a group 2 drug. This means that anyone caught with a possession of high THC (more than 0.5%) marijuana will end up serving some jail time or will have to pay a fine.
Although medicinal cannabis is legal in Texas, that too in very restricted situations. In 2015, Abbott signed the Texas Compassionate Use Act. This permitted epileptic people to get cannabis oil with less than 0.5% THC. Recently, the House Bill 3703, which added other diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS to the list of those who can procure low THC cannabis oil.
Is Recreational Marijuana Dealt In The Same Way Everywhere?
Out of the fifty states in the United States of America, eleven of them (including Washington, D.C.), have legalized recreational marijuana. Although the use of marijuana is still controlled, people are not charged with felonies or thrown into jail for the recreational use or possession of cannabis.
In addition to this, more than 10 other states have completely or somewhat legalized specific marijuana-related crimes. Although prosecutors cannot press criminal charges due to these laws, offenders are often charged with punishments such as a fine or drug education programs.
However, on the other hand, in Texas, prosecutors can press charges against usage of recreational marijuana which may even result in a more than $1,000 fine and also some jail time.
Texas Prescription Refill Laws
In Texas, only physicians, dentists, podiatrists, or veterinarians, are allowed to prescribe drugs. Therapeutic Optometrists can also prescribe some drugs for your eye, and maybe even some oral medication if they are well qualified.
Advanced Practice Nurses or Physicians Assistants have received training in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Thus, they can prescribe drugs, but only under the supervision of a physician.
A pharmacist cannot at any cost refill your prescription bottle if it has not been prescribed by a doctor. A doctor can prescribe no refills, one refill, or several refills. Once the refills licensed on the original prescription are used up, a pharmacist should get approval from the doctor before the prescription can be refilled.
Are There Talks Going On To Legalize Marijuana In Texas?
Yes, although there are some talks going on, the complete legalization of recreational marijuana still seems far away. House Bill 63 was passed last year. According to this law, the people cannot arrest people who only have an ounce (or less) of marijuana. The bill made it a class C crime which would only result in a $500 fine.
Moreover, Abbott also stated that he was willing to lower the punishments for low-level marijuana possession. However, the bill was not approved by the Texas Senate.
What Does The Public Say?
According to the Texas Tribune poll and other surveys conducted by The University of Texas, most of the public wants recreational marijuana to be legalized and is in favour of it..
Statistics show that almost 80% of those who voted said they would decriminalize pot in some way, including medical marijuana (31%), small amounts (30%) or any amount (23%).
How Other States Have Dealt With Legalization
Lately, the governors of New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania had meetings to talk about the decriminalization of recreational marijuana.
In addition to this, other states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Minnesota, Florida, California, Oklahoma, and Washington, all agree to the legalization of marijuana.
When thinking about the circumstances in Texas, with its harsh cannabis laws and Republican-controlled initiative, there are not a lot of chances for marijuana to be legalized. In any case, voters can still assume control over things. For instance, voters in states like Florida, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota have gathered petitions to get cannabis authorized.
Cannabis legitimization can produce immense revenue and lead to more employment. Leafly’s Special Report: Cannabis Job Count focuses on the fact that the cannabis business is “America’s hidden job boom.” The information expresses that cannabis work development could increase by 110% in three years time. In Florida alone, job opportunities rose 703% in 2018
In addition to this, because marijuana has been nationally decriminalized, the tax profits directly go to the states. Thus, these elements should be reason enough for the Texas state to move towards the legitimization of marijuana. There are chances that if other states legalize pot, Texas could also follow suit.