Weed my lips: the law on cannabis in TX

YOU GOT BUSTED FOR DRUG POSSESSION, WHAT NOW?

The first thing you need to know is what level of crime you’re facing. In Texas, drug crimes can be low level misdemeanors or high level felonies, depending on the type of drug and the quantity or weight of the drug that you were busted with. The level of offense will tell you how much punishment you’re facing. 

WHICH TYPE OF DRUG WAS IT?

Drugs are separated into groups called “penalty groups.” The penalty groups essentially divide drugs into categories based on their effects – narcotics, depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens. Any amount of Penalty Group 1 or 2 drugs is a felony. 

Penalty Group 1 and 1A includes opiates and opium derivatives (painkillers like codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone), cocaine, meth, heroin, LSD and similar drugs.

Penalty Group 2 or 2A includes ecstasy (MDMA), mushrooms, amphetamines etc. 

Penalty Group 3 includes opioids and opiates not in PG1 like Valium, Adderall, Ritalin, etc. 

 

IT’S JUST WEED, MAN!

Texas does not treat all marijuana products in the same manner. Edibles can land you in far more trouble than the raw herb. If you’re caught with anything under 4 ounces of herb, it will be considered a misdemeanor crime, up to $4,000 in fines and imprisonment for up to 1 year. Anything above 4 ounces is considered a felony.

Edibles contain tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), the active ingredient in raw marijuana. THC concentrate is an automatic felony in Texas, regardless of amount. Even wax residue or a virtually empty cartridge for a THC pen in a state jail felony. If you have more than 1 gram of THC concentrate, the weight of the “drug” will determine how serious of a felony you’re charged with. 

Drugs in Texas are weighed with their adulterants and dilutants. or everything that surrounds the drug.  If you have a brownie, you’re weighing that dough. If you have a gummy, the whole gummy will be counted against you. 

Let's take for example an edible the size of a standard gummy bear. How much do you think it weighs? 2.2 gram! So, if you get caught with a little gummy bear and it has THC concentrate in it, you're looking at a third-degree felony. 

 

WHAT ABOUT MY MEDICAL MARIJUANA OR CANNABIS CARD IN OTHER STATES?

Cannabis has countless health benefits. Texas is far behind other states in recognizing that fact. If you’re lucky enough to get a medical marijuana card in another state, know that it doesn’t hold water here in Texas. Even if you legally purchase the cannabis product in New Mexico, for example, it is still illegal to possess it here in Texas. 

WHAT ABOUT CBD OIL AND OTHER CBD PRODUCTS?

If you’ve been to a farmer’s market lately, you’ve seen countless booths with CBD-related products from creams and scrubs to tinctures and vitamins! Why the explosion of CBD vendors? In 2019, the definition of illegal marijuana changed. Any cannabis-derived substance that has .3 percent or less THC is legal and known as hemp, not weed.

WHAT IS THE TEXAS COMPASSIONATE USE ACT?

Although Texas has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the country, the state passed the Texas Compassionate Use Act which allows individuals with qualifying conditions to purchase and use low-THC cannabis. 

Qualifying conditions in Texas include epilepsy, a seizure disorder, multiple sclerosis, autism, terminal cancer and a few others. But there are only a handful of doctors who meet the requirements for prescribing low-THC products. And, low-THC means .5 percent THC or less; it’s just a tiny-bit stronger CBD. 

It’s a start. Not a great start, but a start. 

If you feel strongly about legalizing cannabis in Texas, several organizations lobby for change. Check out Texas NORML or the NORML chapter in your area. Several other local organizations are educating and fighting for change (e.g. LegalizeEP in El Paso). Get involved or follow these organizations on Instagram. 

Check out Texas NORML, here:

https://www.texasnorml.org 

WOAH, WOAH, WOAH BRO, YOU DON’T HAVE CONSENT TO SEARCH!

The smell of burnt marijuana is probable cause to search a vehicle under Texas law. Police officers use that excuse all the time to get consent to search a vehicle during a traffic stop, even when they don’t actually smell marijuana. 

YOU DON’T EVER HAVE TO CONSENT TO SEARCH. 

If you deny consent, the officers will probably search anyway. If the search turns out to be illegal, anything they find can be thrown out and not used as evidence against you. Consent, in most cases, invalidates an illegal search. That’s why officers ask for your consent, even when they say they have probable cause anyway. Be smart, never consent to a search and always ask for an attorney immediately.