There has been some confusion with a recently enacted law where some are under the impression that marijuana is somewhat legal in Texas. It’s not…but you might not be prosecuted for possessing small amounts.
The problem started, as many do, with our Texas Legislature. Now I’ve been to the legislature and testified before committees and I came to the conclusion that many lawmakers are completely inept when it comes to lawmaking. In fact, a Senate committee chair once told me, on the record, that he is powerless to make good laws. That last sentence was not a typo. This is another instance of politicos not listening.
In June, hemp and CBD products containing less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) became legal. THC is where the intoxicating effect of marijuana comes from. Hemp and marijuana come from the same source, a plant known as cannabis sativa, but are from different parts. The hemp will contain the minimal amount of THC, the marijuana will be over. They will both look the same and to figure out what is what, the substance must be tested and therein lies the problem. Under old law, they only had to test for presence of THC but now have to test for an amount. All but maybe two of Texas’ crime labs do not have the capability to measure an amount of THC within a provided sample.
Governor Abbot and the Attorney General seem surprised that many jurisdictions are dismissing low level marijuana charges (they’ll pay for the tests on higher level amounts and offenses). They shouldn’t be. Testimony was given at a committee hearing that it would probably take crime labs at least a year to have the equipment and be ready to do tests to enforce the laws. The advice was not only ignored, but the plan was accelerated. Most new laws take effect on September 1, but the hemp law was given designation to be enacted upon signing, giving law enforcement no time to prepare and get on the same page.
Many jurisdictions, including your larger counties of Tarrant, Dallas, Travis, etc., have been dismissing low level marijuana cases. Again, prosecutors aren’t going to waste resources on these low level possession cases for now, but the day will come when they have the capability to perform the tests and prosecute.
Marijuana possession is still illegal under federal and state law. While you may not face consequences for a less than 2 ounce possession charge today, that may change tomorrow.