The general loosening of restrictions and attitudes toward marijuana in this country may cause many to believe that growing a bit of marijuana for personal use in the State of Texas is not a big deal, but this is not the case.
Texas has remained staunchly rigid in its efforts to keep marijuana illegal – for both medical and recreational purposes – and has the legal consequences to back this up.
If you are facing a criminal charge for marijuana possession, it is time to reach out for the skilled legal guidance of an experienced Killeen criminal defense attorney.
For many years, Texas’s compassionate use program, which allows marijuana use for specific medical conditions, applied only to those with intractable epilepsy, but the state has expanded this restriction to include the following conditions:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Incurable neurodegenerative diseases
This list is far more restrictive than those employed by most other states in the nation and applies only to low-THC marijuana.
In Texas, only qualified medical professionals can prescribe medical marijuana – with a level of THC that does not exceed .05 percent – for permanent residents of the state who have any of the previously listed conditions. The level of THC in hemp, which was recently legalized in Texas, is .03 percent, which highlights how restrictive the state is concerning medical marijuana.
Here are some other considerations to keep in mind regarding medical marijuana in Texas:
There is no age limit for medical marijuana prescriptions, but anyone under 18 needs their parent or guardian’s permission.
Only patients with medical marijuana prescriptions and their designated primary caregivers can purchase medical marijuana from licensed dispensaries. In this way, Texas differs from most other states, which use a medical marijuana card system rather than prescriptions.
The maximum amount of marijuana anyone can legally purchase at any given time is determined in accordance with the treating physician’s prescription.
Unlike the programs implemented in many other states, growing your own medical marijuana in Texas is against the law.
Physicians who are licensed to prescribe medical marijuana in Texas are required to carefully weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks of the prescription. If the benefits outweigh the risks, a prescription is considered warranted.
In 2019, the State of Texas legalized hemp, which refers to any plant with up to .3 percent of THC based on dry weight. This allowance, however, does not extend to items other than hemp that come in at .3 percent THC, including vape pen cartridges and gummies.
It’s important to note that law enforcement generally does not have the technological equipment necessary to distinguish between hemp and marijuana, which can play out to your disadvantage – if the officer decides to arrest you first and decipher THC amounts later.
Growing Your Own
There are no direct laws on the books in Texas regarding growing your own marijuana. Instead, the laws that apply to growing your own marijuana are the same as those for possession. Both classes include the following penalties:
Possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor charge, which carries jail time of up to 180 days and fines of up to $2,000.
Possession of from 2 to 4 ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor charge, which carries jail time of up to 1 year and fines of up to $4,000.
Possession of from 4 ounces to 5 pounds of marijuana is a felony charge, which carries a mandatory sentence of from 180 days to 2 years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.
Possession of from 5 to 50 pounds of marijuana is a felony charge, which carries a mandatory prison sentence of from 2 years to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Possession of from 50 to 2,000 pounds of marijuana is a second-degree felony charge, which carries a mandatory prison sentence of from 2 years to 20 years and fines of up to $10,000.
Possession of more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana is a first-degree felony charge, which carries a mandatory prison sentence of from 5 years to 99 years in prison and fines of up to $50,000.
The State of Texas takes its marijuana laws extremely seriously, and this includes simple possession. As such, if you are facing drug possession charges, reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately.
Many states allow reciprocity with other states that employ similar minimum restrictions around medical marijuana. This arrangement affords those with medical marijuana cards in one state the ability to purchase the drug in any other state with reciprocity and vice-versa.
Texas, however, is not one of these states and does not enjoy reciprocity with any other state. This means that, if you are from out of state, your medical marijuana card will not do you any good in Texas.
To obtain medical marijuana in Texas, you need to be a resident of the state who has a prescription for medical marijuana based on a highly specific list of health disorders from a licensed medical professional.
Crossing State Lines
If you are from a state with less restrictive marijuana laws, it is easy to let your guard down a bit, and this will not serve you well if you find yourself in Texas with marijuana on you.
The laws in your state have no bearing in Texas, and you can count on Texas’s laws being considerably harsher than those in most other states if you are convicted of marijuana possession, whether medical or otherwise.
The same is true for Texans who purchase marijuana legally in other states – bringing it into Texas with you is illegal.
The fact that marijuana remains illegal at the federal level makes crossing state lines into Texas with marijuana even more dicey.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is legal in Texas, but the fact that these products receive very little oversight leaves plenty of wiggle room for error. If the CBD product you purchase contains any THC, which some do, it is illegal in Texas. In other words, exercising caution is prudent.
If the various terms and laws associated with drug possession charges are making you unsure of where you stand with Texas’ marijuana laws, contact a criminal defense lawyer today!
Using Terms Interchangeably
What kind of plant are you dealing with? As long as the concentration of THC is above .3 percent dry weight, the plant in question is against the law in Texas, and all the following terms apply interchangeably:
Regardless of what it’s called, it remains the same illegal substance.
When the level of THC by dry weight dips down to .3 percent or below, the plant is hemp. Again, however, there is no way to determine the percentage of THC in a product by sight, which means that hemp could still get you into trouble – at least initially.
Edibles and Other Forms of Marijuana
It is very important to note that possession of more than four ounces of marijuana – or possession of from two to four ounces of marijuana in a drug-free zone – is a felony. Below these amounts, however, you are probably looking at a misdemeanor charge.
If, however, you are in possession of any other substance that contains THC in any amount, it is a felony – regardless of the quantity you have on you. For example, having one gummy containing THC in your possession can land you with a felony charge.
The Cite and Release Policy
The Texas Department of Public Safety takes a cite-and-release position in relation to small amounts of marijuana. This position means that the police can cite you for possessing less than four ounces of marijuana without actually arresting you.
In this situation, your case will proceed as if you had been arrested to begin with. While you will face the same legal consequences if you are convicted of the possession charge, bypassing early arrest allows you to focus on your defense and keeps you out of jail, which is always a good thing.
There are exceptions to this cite and release policy, however:
If you live outside the county in which you are cited for possession of marijuana, the officer retains the right to arrest you.
The prosecutors in some Texas jurisdictions prefer that everyone in possession of marijuana be arrested, and they have the discretion to implement this policy with the police in their jurisdiction.
Do you feel that you’ve been treated unfairly in regards to your drug possession charges? Reach out to a skilled criminal defense lawyer for assistance and advice.
If You’re Caught Growing Medical Marijuana
Growing marijuana – medical or otherwise – translates to possession charges in Texas, but there is more to the matter than this.
The State of Texas issues a very limited number of authorizations for distributors of medical marijuana in the state, and only this handful of distributors have the legal right to grow medical marijuana. The plants grown by these handpicked distributors are the only legal marijuana in the state.
It is also important to note that having a medical marijuana prescription in Texas applies only to products that can be taken orally, such as gummies and tinctures, not to marijuana that can be smoked.
Texas law enforcement often focuses on grow houses, which are buildings that churn out large quantities of illegal marijuana.
Busting grow houses generally involves proving cultivation. Officers throughout the state go to great lengths to find evidence supporting their hunches about these cottage industries. The investigations can include going undercover and even following suspects in order to monitor their purchases – with a keen eye toward hydroponic equipment and other growing supplies.
Here are just a few of the tell-tale signs of grow houses that the authorities are on the lookout for:
A house that stands empty much of the time
A house with multiple air conditioning units
A house that experiences regular water damage
A house with inordinately high utility bills
A house where snow doesn’t collect on the roof in the same way it does on other homes in the area due to warm temperatures within
A house with extensive wiring outside it
A house with windows that are completely covered, such as by paper or wood
A house that emits the unmistakable smell of marijuana
A house that emits a humming sound
A house that implements seemingly excessive security measures
A house whose occupants frequently purchase hydroponic equipment
Moving in a Less Restrictive Direction
The inevitable winds of change in this country indicate that, as a nation, we are moving toward less restrictive marijuana laws, and even Texas shows signs that this is true.
When the governor signed the hemp law into effect in 2019, many saw it as a step toward decriminalizing the drug. While Governor Abbot demurred on this point, marijuana charges have decreased considerably since the law was implemented.
While this should not be read as a go-ahead to throw caution to the wind, it is a clear sign that the State of Texas is likely to march slowly forward toward loosened restrictions. Texas, being Texas, however, is likely to take its own sweet time with the process, which makes knowing and carefully abiding by the state’s current laws paramount.
Where Texas Stands
Texas has some of the harshest penalties for marijuana in the nation, but it is not the most restrictive state. Three states have failed to legalize even medical marijuana:
Texas’s legalization of marijuana with low THC puts it in the next most restrictive position. About 21 states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana for those over the age of 21. Many others have decriminalized specific offenses, which generally means possession of a small amount won’t lead to a criminal charge.
Seek the Legal Guidance of an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a formidable criminal defense attorney who will leave no stone unturned in his focused quest to defend your legal rights and skillfully guide your case toward its most advantageous outcome. We are here for you, so please do not wait to contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222 for more information today.