Medical marijuana is scheduled to become legal in Texas in 2017, although on such a restricted basis that it seems impossible to interpret this change in the law as a means of paving the way for legalized recreational use, as has been alleged in other states. Unless something changes suddenly, recreational use of marijuana will remain illegal at least for 2017.
Current Texas Marijuana Laws
Under current Texas criminal law, it is a crime to possess marijuana no matter what your reason for using it. Moreover, Texas marijuana penalties are among the strictest in the nation — possession of up to two ounces is a Class B misdemeanor with the following penalties:
- Up to 180 days in jail
- A fine of up to $2,000
- A driver’s license suspension of six months (even if you were not driving at the time of the offense!)
Most first-time offenders manage to stay out of jail and are sentenced to drug treatment or community service. Possession of larger amounts of marijuana lead to progressively more severe penalties, including as much as 99 years in state prison for possession of a ton or more (the amount a commercial marijuana farmer could easily possess).
Marijuana remains illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Since no exception is made for the medical use of marijuana, technically even the medical use of marijuana will remain illegal In Texas in 2017. Although the Obama administration has indicated that it will not enforce marijuana prohibitions when they conflict with state law, the new President might see things differently.
In 2017 marijuana will become a legal treatment for one (and only one) malady – intractable epilepsy. Even then, the patient must prove that he has tried at least two other medications and both of them proved ineffective. Quite a bit of paperwork will be required before the patient will actually get to use marijuana. Patients with other maladies for which marijuana is alleged to be an effective treatment – glaucoma, for example, or nausea due to chemotherapy treatments – will not be treatable with marijuana under Texas law.
The form of the marijuana that will be used for treatment will be relatively unsuitable for recreational use (likely to prevent marijuana stockpiles from becoming tempting targets for thieves. Much of it will be sold in oil form, and its content of THC (the marijuana ingredient that gets users “high”) will no more than 0.5 percent.
Obtaining Legal Assistance
Houston criminal defense lawyer Mario Madrid has been practicing law in Texas for twenty years a defense lawyer, a prosecutor and a judge at various times. He is a board-certified specialist in criminal law and a member of the National College of DUI Defense Attorneys. If you have been charged with a crime in the Houston area, or if you simply have questions about Texas criminal law, call Madrid Law, PLLC at 713-877-9400 for a free initial consultation.