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Texas Marijuana Laws: Strict Drug Laws Now as Marijuana is Absolutely Illegal in Texas, But Will This Change and Can You Still Be Arrested for Pot in Texas?

Make no mistake about it: marijuana is 100% illegal in the State of Texas. It doesn’t matter if you are a marijuana farmer with a huge crop for harvest, or a marijuana distributor with lots and lots of product, or a recreational user with a tiny bit of pot in your possession: having any amount of marijuana in your custody or control makes you in violation of Texas criminal law.

You can be arrested.

The minimum sentencing possibility in Texas for marijuana includes both jail time and monetary fines. For those who like to smoke pot for recreational use, it’s important to know that having any marijuana up to two ounces subjects you to the possibility of arrest on a misdemeanor charge that can result in imprisonment for a maximum of 6 months (180 days) and a maximum fine of $2,000.

That’s the risk of having ANY pot whatsoever … the punishment range goes higher once the weight exceeds 2 ounces.

marijuana, public domain

In Texas, even a small amount of marijuana in your possession puts you at risk of jail time and a serious monetary fine.

Consider a recent case that came through our offices: a businessman leaving a Grapevine restaurant was pulled over by a Grapevine Police Officer on a minor traffic violation and arrested after the police officer searched the man’s car based on an assertion that the officer could smell marijuana coming from the car’s interior as he was standing outside the vehicle.

The businessman was arrested there on the roadside and taken into custody Grapevine Police Department. Charge? Class B misdemeanor possession of under two (2) ounces of marijuana, in violation of the Texas Penal Code. (What happened? Read the rest of the story in our Case Results for a happy ending for the busted businessman.)

If you have ANY pot, grass, hemp, or marijuana by any other name, then in Texas you are at risk of arrest. Even the possession of something used to inhale marijuana, e.g., a pipe or a bong, is against the law in the State of Texas. Marijuana paraphernalia is illegal here, too.

Bottom line, Texas’ laws against marijuana are broad-based and longstanding.

Will Texas Marijuana Laws Change?

It’s true that marijuana laws are changing in this country and that several states are legalizing pot – sometimes just for medicinal use, sometimes for recreational use as well. National organizations like NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) are working hard toward the decriminalization of marijuana in small amounts.

However, for the marijuana laws to change on the books means that the Texas Legislature must vote new laws into effect, to change or nullify those statutes that are currently the law of the land here in the Lone Star State.   A recent survey suggested that Texans would support this change, with the majority of Texas voters questioned in the survey stating that they would support the legalization of marijuana in the State of Texas.  

There’s action being done toward this goal. Right now, law students at the South Texas College of Law are working with a group at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy to draft proposed legislation that would legalize marijuana in the State of Texas. Of course, these students aren’t going to be able to pass the proposed laws they draft; however, they may find a friendly state senator or congressperson to take their proposal up to Austin for consideration by the Texas Congress.

Will peer pressure from other states persuade Texas lawmakers to consider revamping Texas marijuana laws? Colorado and Washington may or may not have much influence here … however, some are suggesting another factor as a powerful consideration for Texas and other states considering their current marijuana laws: money.

More Taxable Revenue for the State if Marijuana is Legalized and Taxed

If a state legalizes the recreational use of marijuana, it’s argued, then that state may have the opportunity to gain lots of revenue from the taxation of that new, legalized product as it hits the state marketplace. The argument is being made that allowing the recreational use of marijuana in the State of Texas means more money in the State of Texas’ tax revenue coffers.

This may be true. However, others point both to alcohol and tobacco products as good examples of how black markets tend to survive and even thrive when competing with their legalized counterparts. Taxation makes the price go higher; for many – say a college student on a budget – the cost of recreational marijuana sold at a public store may be over his budget, but pot grown by a buddy or marijuana sold by a local grower may be right on the mark.

As one commentator points out, the taxation of recreational products in the State of Washington has driven their price so high that it’s boosting a black market, with bootleg demand for the same products at a lower price, from less than legal sources.

Texas Marijuana Laws Will Still Be The Basis for Arrests In Texas

Even if the Texas Legislature decides to pass laws that allow for the sale of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, this does not mean that the current marijuana markets will disappear.  Marijuana will still be sold and used despite Texas laws, and police officers will still stop people and arrest them for possession of illegal marijuana.

Changing the marijuana laws to allow for marijuana use does not gut the current marijuana business enterprises that are established in Texas and elsewhere.  (Texas is an established Pot Trade Route / Drug Corridor for current marijuana businesses now.)   The current marijuana laws will still make it illegal to be in possession of unauthorized product as well as to grow, distribute, or sell marijuana outside of the legalized and regulated system set up by state rules.

Which means that Texas criminal defense attorneys will still be needed by people who are arrested for violating Texas drug laws.  Marijuana is still going to be the basis of arresting people in Dallas and Fort Worth and elsewhere and Texas marijuana lawyers are still going to be there for them, to fight against conviction, imprisonment, and fines.

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