Texas marijuana laws are some of the harshest in the country, but as attitudes about marijuana continue to change, activists throughout the state are urging lawmakers to create new policy in the next legislative session, which begins in January 2017.
Specifically, activists hope to expand medical marijuana and lessen criminal penalties for possession of marijuana in small amounts.
Legislators already passed a medical marijuana bill that allows doctors to prescribe cannabidiol -- or CBD oil, a marijuana extract -- which can help patients who suffer from epilepsy and uncontrollable seizures.
However, federal law still prohibits marijuana and classifies it among deadly drugs like heroin, so doctors could lose their DEA licenses for actually prescribing CBD oil. Other states with less strict marijuana laws require doctors to "recommend" medical marijuana or "certify" patients, rather than "prescribe" marijuana.
Many critics of the Texas medical marijuana law say it is far too limited.
A more expansive medical marijuana policy may lead the way to legalization in some form -- if not recreational use -- but until then, people accused of marijuana offenses will need a strong criminal defense.
Currently, being convicted of marijuana possession in Texas can result in the following penalties:
- 2 ounces or less: a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and incarceration of up to 180 days
- 2 to 4 ounces: a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and incarceration of up to one year
- 4 ounces to 5 pounds: a felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 a 180 days to two years in prison
- 5 to 50 pounds: a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 and two to 10 years in prison
- 50 to 2,000 pounds: a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 and two to 20 years in prison
- More than 2,000 pounds: a felony with a maximum fine of $50,000 and five to 99 years in prison.
The penalties for possession of hash and concentrates are slightly different but also harsh.
If you have been arrested for any kind of marijuana-related offense, do not hesitate to start protecting your rights by contacting an experienced criminal defense lawyer.