Is marijuana legal in Texas?

Legislation aimed at legalizing marijuana has been sweeping across the nation. Efforts to get the recreational use of the drug decriminalized here in Texas haven’t been successful like they have been in some states, e.g., California. As of now, marijuana remains illegal in the Lone Star State. However, hemp — a byproduct of marijuana derived from the cannabis plant — is now legal in the state.

If you’re wondering how hemp differs from marijuana, you can’t tell simply by looking or smelling. They are nearly identical on these two levels. The only difference is that one contains more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than the other. THC is the psychoactive compound found in both hemp and marijuana.

Texas law refers to any product with a THC concentration of less than .3% as hemp. Any substance with a higher percentage than that is considered to be marijuana. Laws that were passed last year in Texas made it legal for retailers to sell Cannabidiol (CBD) products that contain some THC.

Many prosecutorial agencies across Texas have declined to file new marijuana cases since state laws were updated last year. Many have said that they don’t have the necessary equipment to determine THC levels in products. Other prosecutors’ offices have dropped pending cases against defendants since last year as well. This has resulted in marijuana arrests declining by at least half in the last six months since this latest law was passed.

The Texas Compassionate Use Act went into effect here in 2015. It allows individuals with epilepsy to lawfully purchase and use cannabis oil provided it contains no more than .5% THC. Gov. Greg Abbott also signed into law House Bill 3703 just last year. It allows individuals with certain chronic medical conditions including Lou Gehrig’s, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis to obtain medical cannabis to help them treat their condition.

Right now arrests for marijuana-related offenses are quite low in Texas. The introduction of new testing methods that could determine how much THC a product contains could easily change that arrest statistic, though. Individuals who are found trafficking significant amounts of the drug could face prison times and fines as well. A drug crimes attorney can help you come up with a defense strategy that you can pursue in your Edinburg case if you’ve been charged with violating the law.