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The Current Status of Cannabis Legalization in America: Texas

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Cannabis in Texas is illegal for recreational use, however, some cities have decriminalized it, such as Austin. In Sept 2021, legislation signed by  Governor Abbott, went into effect: HB 1535. This marijuana legislation in Texas expands medical conditions that allow for legal Texas cannabis use. 

Qualifying conditions include:

As of 2021, cannabis- marijuana is legal in 18 states, and Washington D.C (D.C is a district not a state). In the southern region of the United States, the state of Virginia is the only state that has legalized cannabis- marijuana for recreational consumption. But even there, legalization comes with restrictions like- no retail sales, just home grow. 

In Texas, legal marijuana comes with restrictions such as:

This is actually a win for Texans because prior to the 1% THC currently in place and just updated in 2021, THC was only allowed up to 5%. In Texas, possession of up to two ounces is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in prison and/or a fine of up to $2000.

Texas War on Cannabis Marijuana 

The reality of cannabis marijuana laws in Texas, as it relates to the people goes a little something like this:

The Texas Orator reported that The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas says:“Between 1980 and 2004, the population of Texas’ 94 prisons and 20 state jails increased by 556 percent, and corrections spending increased by 1,600 percent.”

Texas Orator points out that: “Texas has overfilled its prisons with nonviolent people oftentimes in trouble merely for drug possession. Texas has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country.” We should note that Texas shares the longest border with Mexico, and that border is documented as the border with the highest trafficked illegal drugs. 

It appears that arrests in Texas may be going down as they relate to marijuana. The Texas Tribune reports that: “Several Texas prosecutors and law enforcement agencies have already stopped arresting and prosecuting people found with small amounts of marijuana on their first offense.”

House Bill 99 is the hope that marijuana possession would no longer be an arrestable offense; this is Rep. Steve Roth’s attempt to address the racial disparity in Texas related to marijuana arrests. House Bill 99 would get rid of arrests and driver’s license suspensions for marijuana possession only punishable by a fine. 

Because of federally legal hemp/ CBD, marijuana arrests have reportedly gone down as follows:

It appears that arrests in Texas for marijuana, lead to high convictions, so it’s a good thing that changes and what leads to arrests are happening. According to KRWG Public Media, 97% of marijuana convictions are due to possession. 

In Closing

The State of Texas Drug Use Patterns and Trends for 2019 shows that: Methamphetamine is the top drug threat reported by the three DEA Field Divisions that cover Texas. 

Because of federal legalization, marijuana is still considered a schedule 1 “drug”. Studies are showing that marijuana can prevent opioid addiction. In an article published on the Recovery Village, it states:

“Prescribed marijuana can help prevent an opioid addiction from developing in the first place. Many addicts begin their addiction with a prescription for painkillers, and medical marijuana might be a suitable and safer substitute.”

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