Texas 2023 – The Landscape of Marijuana Laws
The landscape of marijuana laws has been shifting rapidly across the country. But each state has its own unique socio-political climate and cultural values, and Texas is no exception.
Currently, cannabis is considered a Schedule I drug in Texas and can carry significant consequences for possession. However, the Compassionate Use Program allows individuals to possess low-THC cannabis with a doctor’s prescription.
While Texas is still a long way from legalizing marijuana, there have been some signs of progress. Last year, voters in the cities of Killeen, Denton, Elgin, and San Marcos approved ballot initiatives that would reduce cannabis penalties. However, the city councils in those cities have declined to implement these voter-approved measures, and marijuana possession remains a crime in Texas.
A recent Hobby School poll found that 82% of Texans support legalizing marijuana for all uses, including medical purposes. The survey also found that the belief that marijuana is a gateway drug is losing traction, with 70% of respondents saying it would make people less likely to use other illegal drugs.
The 88th legislative session is coming to an end, and lawmakers have yet to take up any cannabis legislation. This is a big disappointment for marijuana advocates, but it is not a total loss. Daryoush Austin Zamhariri, editor-in-chief of the Texas Cannabis Collective, says that there are some victories to celebrate.
The state’s current laws on marijuana are harsh and often result in lengthy prison sentences. This can be especially damaging to disadvantaged communities, where people are disproportionately arrested for low-level offenses and have more difficulty accessing healthcare and jobs. Legalization could help ease these social and economic inequalities.
During the 2023 legislative session, several bills were proposed to decriminalize cannabis. One bill, HB 1937, would allow adults to possess 2.5 ounces of cannabis and exempt from conviction past marijuana offenses. It also would allow residents to grow up to 12 plants at home. Another bill, HB 3652, by Rep. Joe Moody, would legalize recreational marijuana and set a 10% tax rate on retail sales.
The bills also seek to improve the Texas Compassionate Use Program by letting doctors decide who is a qualified patient, and creating protections for patients. They also seek to reduce the penalties for possession of marijuana concentrates by lowering the threshold from a jail felony to a misdemeanor.
The 88th legislative session was a good one for Texas cannabis advocates, but the final results are still unclear. While bills that would legalize marijuana for adults were defeated, some more realistic proposals passed. These bills will help set the stage for a retail marijuana market in Texas, and will also create regulations and licensing procedures.
According to a recent poll by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, 82% of Texas voters support the state legislature passing a bill to allow medical cannabis for a wide range of conditions. Currently, the state’s Compassionate Use Program allows patients with certain conditions to access cannabis oil with less than 1% THC.
The bill aims to reduce or remove the excessively harsh penalties for possession of marijuana and establishes a process for expungement of past convictions. It would also ensure that individuals on parole, pretrial release or supervised release are not discriminated against because of their marijuana usage.
Currently, Texas has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the country. Those caught with marijuana can face hefty fines and jail time. This is especially true if they are found with marijuana near schools and playgrounds. The law also increases the penalties for possessing cannabis in drug-free zones.
The 88th Legislature is in session and has seen several legislative proposals to decriminalize and regulate cannabis. Senator Joe Moody has sponsored HB 3652, which seeks to legalize adult use and establish rules for the retail marijuana industry. The bill has passed the Senate and has been referred to the House Committee on State Affairs.
Moody’s HB 3652 is one of the few small victories for cannabis advocates this year, according to Daryoush Zamhariri, editor of Texas Cannabis Collective. Another victory was a bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana program. The current program allows people with intractable epilepsy, all forms of cancer, and PTSD to purchase cannabis products.