Texas has had a flurry of progressive proposals when it comes to cannabis legislation. While only one bill — a limited medical CBD law — passed, there are still significant steps for the state to take before it adequately provides its residents safe and legal access to cannabis.
CBD from Hemp Oil in Texas
Hemp CBD oil is federally legal in the U.S. Individual state laws, however, are dynamic and some states have and will enact their own laws regulating hemp-derived CBD. Texas may govern hemp-derived CBD.
Medical Cannabis in Texas
Despite some legislative support in the last session, no comprehensive medical cannabis policy has been enacted in the state. On June 1, 2015, Texas did pass a CBD oil bill that applies to the treatment of intractable epilepsy. Qualified patients are required to first get prescriptions from two certified specialists, at which point they will be legally allowed to use cannabis oil with at most 0.5% THC and 10% CBD.
While the CBD law has been put into effect, many are skeptical that the system cannot be successfully implemented as written. Because doctors are required to “prescribe” rather than “recommend” or “certify” patients, very few physicians are willing to do so because prescribing a Schedule I substance puts their DEA license to prescribe controlled substances at risk.
Sen. Jose Menéndez has filed a bill for the 2017 legislative session that proposes a comprehensive medical cannabis law.
Recreational Cannabis in Texas
Currently all possession of cannabis for recreational purposes in Texas is a crime. Those caught with up to 4 ounces of cannabis are charged with a misdemeanor and subject to fines up to $4,000 and a year in jail. Possessing more than 4 ounces is a felony, punishable by 180 days to up to 99 years and fines of $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the possession amount.
Over the past two years, Texas’ legislatures have introduced decriminalization bills, but none have yet to pass. In December 2016, state lawmakers have filed several new decriminalization bills that will be considered in the 2017 legislative session. Until then, Texas will continue to prosecute those possessing cannabis, including mandatory minimum sentences for those in possession of or attempting to sell large quantities of the drug.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, upon being sworn into office in January 2017, announced that she planned to decriminalize all simple possession of cannabis in Harris County, the most populous county in Texas. Right now first time offenders caught in possession of up to 2 ounces of Cannabis aren’t subject to prosecution. Ogg’s progressive plan would make all misdemeanor possession charges are diverted around jail.
Cultivation of Cannabis in Texas
The cultivation of cannabis for personal or medical use is illegal in Texas. There are no provisions for research or agriculture-based cannabis production, and cultivation is prosecuted based on the weight of the plants found.