Cities In Texas Are Decriminalizing Marijuana! So Is It Legal Now?
As you know it is still illegal to purchase, sell, or be in possession of marijuana in the state of Texas, however, some Texas cities are decriminalizing marijuana. What is the difference if something is illegal and something that is decriminalized?
The term illegal, according to Google Dictionary, means:
contrary to or forbidden by law, especially criminal law
The term decriminalized means:
the removal of criminal penalties for drug law violations
Just because something has been decriminalized doesn't mean that it is legal, it just means that doesn't carry as harsh of a punishment as it did before.
Since 1931 it has been illegal to purchase or possess marijuana of any kind in Texas. However, you are allowed to have "hemp" or the cannabis part of the marijuana plant with a concentration of .03% or less of THC. Since it is hard to distinguish the difference between marijuana and hemp without testing many cities in the state have resorted to a simple fine for possession, kind of like a traffic ticket. Counties such as Dallas, Bexar, Harris, and Nueces have all stopped arresting people for possession if it is a small amount and is offering diversion programs or simply just a misdemeanor citation. Many other cities/counties have started doing the same.
However, it is still illegal to purchase or possess any kind of marijuana, Texas law allows prosecutors to press criminal charges, typically misdemeanors for small amounts, against recreational marijuana users. They can carry fines of more than $1,000 and jail time, and obviously possessing larger amounts can carry much larger punishments.
Medical Cannabis is legal in Texas but in very limited circumstances. According to the Compassion Act of 2015, people with epilepsy are allowed to access cannabis oil with less than 0.5% THC. House Bill 3703, expanded the list of qualifying conditions to include diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS.
Does this mean Texas is closer to legalizing marijuana, maybe? Many lawmakers have been pushing for it but so it not passes Texas legislation.