Texas Cannabis Laws: What is Legal, and How Does it Affect DWI?

Even though cannabis laws have become at least a little bit more lenient in all 50 states, Texas still has some of the strictest cannabis laws in the country. Especially compared to Colorado and California, both of which happen to be within road-trip distance of Texas, the Lone Star State is about as 420-unfriendly as you can get. While Texas has taken steps toward opening three medical cannabis dispensaries in the last few months, critics still claim that Texas cannabis laws are too strict and that they contain contradictions. At least for the time being, the safest option is to avoid buying or consuming cannabis in Texas. Even if you have received permission to use cannabis for medical reasons, it is definitely not legal to drive under the influence of cannabis in Texas.

Medical Cannabis in Texas

The first step to allowing medical cannabis use in Texas was the Compassionate Use Act, which passed in 2015. The law allows patients with certain medical conditions to possess and consume cannabis products to help them manage their illnesses. Much of the media attention to the Compassionate Use Act centers on patients with severe epilepsy that does not respond to other treatments or for whom the side effects of conventional epilepsy medications are debilitating.  Despite the fact that two years have elapsed since the law was passed, many patients with severe epilepsy find it easier to move to other states rather than to seek cannabis treatment in Texas.

The Compassionate Use Act of 2015 stipulated the licensing and opening of three medical cannabis dispensaries in Texas, but it took until the fall of 2017 for any of them to open. Another obstacle to medical cannabis use is the wording of a Texas law that appears to conflict with a federal law. Federal law still considers cannabis products that contain a high concentration of THC to be schedule I drugs, meaning that it is not legal to prescribe them under any circumstances. By contrast, cocaine is a schedule II drug. It has exactly one medical use; doctors can legally use cocaine as an anesthetic for certain types of eye surgery.

Meanwhile, Texas law only authorizes patients to use medical cannabis when a doctor “prescribes” it. The problem is that doctors cannot legally prescribe a schedule I drug. Other states use the word “recommend” instead of “prescribe” for the physician authorization required for patients to get a medical cannabis card. California treats cannabis much like a dietary supplement, for example. It labels commercially produced cannabis products with their THC content, much the way that food labels show nutritional content and dietary supplements show the doses of their active ingredients. A doctor recommending cannabis is much like a doctor recommending that you take low dose aspirin or vitamin D, except that the recommendation must be in writing.

What About Driving?

Driving under the influence of cannabis is not legal in Texas.

Contact Madrid Law About DWI Cases

In many cases, the law contains enough ambiguities, and it takes an experienced professional to help you exercise your legal rights to the full extent. Mario Madrid is a Houston-based criminal defense attorney who works with DWI cases. Contact Madrid Law in Houston about your DWI case.

Texas Cannabis Laws: What is Legal, and How Does it Affect DWI?
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