While 23 states have seen fit to legalize marijuana, the laws of Texas remain strict as ever on the controversial plant. With the unique location and reputation of Texas, many are wondering whether there is any hope for marijuana legislation to pass in the Lone Star State. What are the ramifications of these laws and what’s keeping it from passing in Texas? Find out as we explore the state of marijuana laws and legalization in Texas.
Why Did Other States Legalize Marijuana?
To understand the controversy regarding marijuana, it helps to look at the arguments in support of legalization. Here are some of the core benefits claimed by those who support legalization:
Common Arguments in Favor of Legalizing Marijuana
- More control over the type and quantity sold
- Additional tax money for the state
- Research shows it’s superior to many prescription meds
- It’s not physically harmful – Other illegal drugs are
- Veterans report success in using marijuana to treat PTSD
- Legalization is likely to decrease the number of crimes
Who is Pushing for Legalization in Texas?
While it may seem like legalization in Texas is virtually impossible, there are a lot of people fighting for it, even as recently as this year. One relevant example is the HB 81 bill, a bill that significantly reduced penalties for low-level marijuana charges. Written by Texas State Rep. Joe Moody, the HB 81 bill made it out of committee in the House, but didn’t get voted in before the deadline.
A similar bill was spearheaded by Rep. Eddie Lucio III earlier in 2017. Rather than reducing penalties, Lucio’s bill sought to circumvent problems with the Compassionate Use Program. Most notably, it adjusted limitations on doctors’ rights to prescribe cannabis as well as the rights of patients. This bill was the HB 2107, and it shared the same fate as the HB 81, thereby postponing any chance of marijuana reform for another year.
No Mercy for Marijuana – At Least Not in Texas
Many people consider marijuana a minor drug, but that logic doesn’t apply in Texas. Getting caught with cannabis in Texas still carries stiff penalties that are akin to those of far more deadly substances. Check out the current laws governing marijuana possession in Texas:
Up to 2 0z – Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to $2,000
2oz to 4oz – Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and $4,000
4oz to 5lbs – State Jail Felony, punishable by 180 days to 2 years in jail and up to $10,000
5lbs to 50lbs – 3rd Degree Felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in jail and up to $10,000
50lbs to 2000lbs – 2nd Degree Felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in jail and up to $10,000
Over 2000lbs – 1st Degree Felony, punishable by 2 to 99 years in jail and up to $50,000
Will Texas Reform Marijuana in the Upcoming Years?
It’s no secret that Texas is a conservative state with a location that puts them in ground zero of the drug trade. This means that from a criminal justice standpoint, Texas has more drug problems to worry about than states that don’t border Mexico. Factors like those make marijuana reform seem like an uphill battle in Texas, but with advocates like Rep. Joe Moody and Rep. Eddie Lucio III, only time will tell what the future of legalization will be in Texas.
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If you’ve been caught with even a small amount of marijuana on you in Texas, penalties can be harsher than you may realize. If you don’t have a lawyer that knows the laws of Texas, then this can quickly turn into an overwhelming situation. Avoid panic and ensure that you maximize your chances of a favorable outcome. Call Phillip A. Linder, the drug lawyer with over 25 years of experience defending clients for a wide range of offenses. Contact the Linder Law Firm today!