Texas is an incredible place whether you’re a visitor or a long term resident—everything’s bigger! For the most part, the people of the Lone Star State are friendly, helpful and brimming with southern charm. The one thing they are not, however, is politically progressive. You hear it on the news and you see it in their laws—Texas will rarely drift from the status quo. If it does, it will be with great hesitation and by very little. The legal status of marijuana is a great example to help understand how political reform is treated in terms of medical benefits and even public and low-status political support. Here are 3 things you need to know about cannabis in Texas.
It’s Still Illegal as Ever
Photo Credit: Elvert Barnes
In the eyes of the law, there is no difference between a gram and an ounce. As a matter of fact, there is no difference between a gram and two ounces. If caught and arrested, anyone with under two ounces of marijuana can be charged with a misdemeanor and incarcerated for up to 180 days with a maximum fine of $2,000. It gets worse. For possession of just one gram of hash or concentrate, you could face 180 days to two years in prison and get slapped with a hefty $10,000 fine. Now you may be thinking that this can’t be enforced all that much since the penalties are so great. Guess again. In 2012, there were a jaw-dropping 78,000 arrests in relation to marijuana, 97% of those being simply possession.
Medicinal Use is Extremely Limited
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We support any step towards legalization, even if the only action the state took is comparable to inching their toe forward. Texas State Governor Greg Abbott approved marijuana for medicinal use, but there is a giant catch, you can only get cannabis oil. In addition to that, you have to be suffering from epilepsy in order to gain legal access to the medication. Although we are happy for those who qualify for the medication, as is proven to help those suffering from epilepsy, we also can’t help but feel frustrated. Especially considering there are many Texans suffering from a wide range of diseases, yet they will be denied access to something that could potentially help them. However, even if they had access to cannabis oil, it might not actually help them at all.
Cannabis oil is high in cannabinoids but extremely low in THC. What this means is that almost all psychoactive properties of marijuana have been stripped to allow the legal form to only have an effect on patients suffering from epilepsy. This reduces the risk of large-scale adoption of medicinal marijuana and also virtually eliminates the danger of recreational users abusing the system. While this is a smart play, it is extremely limiting to those in need. The ultimate goal is complete legalization, but the priority is complete legalization for medicinal purposes.
Sliver of Hope
Photo Credit: Ray Bodden
Even when the medicinal law passed and patients that met the criteria were allowed access to the drug, Gov. Greg Abbott stated that there are no current nor future plans to legalize marijuana recreationally. Shortly after that House Bill 2165 was proposed, which was for the complete legalization of recreational marijuana—and it passed by a House Table! Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s legal, nor does it mean that the bill will even be considered. While it passed one obstacle, it has virtually zero chances of passing anything else.
That doesn’t mean the fight in Texas is over, though. If there is one thing history has taught us it’s that marijuana activists will fight until they win and they will continue fighting long after that. Legalization is and always will be possible in Texas and the only way to make that change is to ensure that the public uses the power of their vote and maybe the fight will take a turn for the better.