It is obvious that the Texas marijuana policy is getting much more complex with every new amendment. According to a new poll, the push for marijuana legalization is more popular in Texas than the state’s top leadership and President Joe Biden.
The poll found that an overwhelmingly bi-partisan majority of Texas residents (84%) support the legalization of medical cannabis. About 60% of Texans also support the legalization of recreational cannabis—this shows how popular the cannabis initiative is in Texas. To learn more about it, this guide discusses the future of cannabis in Texas.
Cannabis in the United States Today
Cannabis legalization is gaining momentum in the United States. As of May 2023, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use, while 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use.
The cannabis industry is growing rapidly, with estimates suggesting that it could reach $41 billion by 2025. This growth is being fueled by an increasing acceptance of cannabis among the public and a desire for more natural alternatives to traditional pharmaceuticals. Additionally, the potential for cannabis to provide relief for a wide range of medical conditions has also contributed to its growing popularity.
There is also a growing interest in exploring the potential benefits of cannabis for mental health, including anxiety and depression, as well as for pain management. Here are some stats about marijuana use in the USA today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Marijuana is the most commonly used federally illegal drug in the United States; 48.2 million people, or about 18% of Americans, used it at least once in 2019
- Recent research estimated that approximately 3 in 10 people who use marijuana have marijuana use disorder. For people who begin using marijuana before age 18, the risk of developing marijuana use disorder is even greater
Texans and Marijuana Legalization
Most Texans want the state to legalize cannabis. A recent study from Texas Southern University and the University of Houston found that 68% of Texans support the use and sale of recreational cannabis. However, despite the popular support from locals, the Texas cannabis law is against cannabis legalization.
According to these laws, being caught in possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis is a misdemeanor that could see you spend up to 180 days in jail. Given the popular support from Texans, most of them are against these harsh cannabis laws. In an effort to straighten things out, the support for the reform of medical marijuana crossed the political lines.
About 74% of Republicans, 91% of Democrats, and 85% of independents voted in support of the legalization of medical cannabis. The amendment suggested that patients should access medical marijuana when necessary. A majority of them were also open to the prospect of legalizing it.
Calls for the legalization of both recreational and medical cannabis have become more popular than Texas’s top leaders, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R). Their approval ratings stand at 46% and 40%, respectively. Gov. Abbott, who was one of the custodians of marijuana legalization in the state, signed legislation into law late last year. Despite his soft stance towards the decriminalization of cannabis, Gov. Greg Abbott remains opposed to broader reforms.
Another poll conducted by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston found that 82% of Texans are in favor of the Legislature approving a bill that allows marijuana usage for a variety of medical conditions with a prescription. Another 56% are in favor of medical marijuana.
What Are Texas’ Marijuana Laws?
Texas hasn’t yet decriminalized marijuana despite shifting its stance to allow the use of marijuana for medical reasons. The state’s laws prohibit the use of cannabis, and anyone found culpable is punished.
According to the Texas marijuana laws, the location of the person, when found in possession of marijuana, determines the severity of penalties and consequences.
For example, in McLennan County, having 1 ounce of marijuana is enough to get arrested. Once put on probation, previous users of marijuana are restricted from traveling outside the county and will have to take a drug test regularly. They are also prohibited from visiting bars and consuming alcohol.
There are also financial penalties for those found with cannabis. The financial cost of a marijuana conviction, even if you are doing it for the first time, can amount to over $5,000. This includes attorney fees, probation fines, drug testing, court costs, and charges.
Recent Updates To Texas Marijuana Statistics
While some state officials have made efforts to change marijuana laws from criminal to civil offenses, the changes have not been adopted yet. Therefore, if cannabis user is charged with possession of marijuana today, they will face harsh penalties that could ruin the rest of their lives. This may still be the case even if the recreational use of marijuana is legalized today.
Even though the distribution or possession of marijuana is still criminalized across the state, the District Attorney’s office refuses to prosecute first-time offenders. Instead, the office prosecutes second or third-time offenders. The effort is meant to utilize public resources on more serious cases like homicides and murder.
This is a huge advantage for offenders who have no records of using or distributing marijuana before. Nevertheless, it is vital to know all the rules regarding the use of marijuana in Texas to avoid getting in trouble.
Challenges Facing Legalization
However, there are still challenges facing the cannabis industry, including federal prohibition and a lack of standardization in product quality and potency. The federal government still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug, which means it is illegal and considered to have no medical value.
This classification makes it difficult for businesses to access banking and financial services and hinders research on the potential medical benefits of cannabis.
In Texas, to be more precise, there is a multitude of challenges arising from its inhabitants. Some are arguing that legalization, even if only for medical use, would lead to more serious problems, such as some health concerns, and to the creation of a path towards other, more serious drugs.
The marijuana laws in Texas are more complicated than before. If you have been charged with a drug crime of distribution or possession of marijuana, it is crucial to understand your state’s laws fully.
Even though Texas has shifted its stance to accommodate the use of marijuana for medical reasons, it hasn’t yet decriminalized marijuana. This means that you could find yourself in trouble should you be found in possession of marijuana.