Texas’ Zero Tolerance Policy Toward Marijuana
It bears repeating: While many states in our country have reformed marijuana laws to some degree or another, Texas most decidedly has not.
In fact, marijuana boasts many medical benefits, including treating glaucoma, potentially reducing lung tumors, and easing side effects such as chemo-induced nausea and loss of appetite in cancer patients. Marijuana is reported to be the most widely used controlled substance, and you may already be aware that research indicates the consumption of marijuana does not present the same risks or, used long term, cause harm the way legalized alcohol does.
Despite vigorous arguments that legalizing marijuana for recreational use would result in virtual anarchy, those states that have done so have experienced nothing of the sort. Colorado is reported to be pulling in record amounts of tax dollars and has benefited from the creation of numerous jobs in the now legalized marijuana industry.
Marijuana prohibition is often likened to Prohibition (alcohol) in the 1920s and, much as what happened back then with alcohol, many feel that it is no longer a question of WHETHER marijuana be legalized throughout the United States, but WHEN.
Texas Doesn’t Care
Don’t be fooled by the fact that many states and cities are making an effort to reduce harsh penalties for marijuana possession, limiting or even abolishing incarceration, or think that this somehow mitigates it, making it a lesser offense in other states.
Being caught in Texas in possession of cannabis—no matter how small the amount—is a serious offense.
You need to know that Texas law takes a ZERO TOLERANCE approach to marijuana possession. Despite changing public opinion in the state, little progress has been made to reform these laws.
Texas does not recognize the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Extracted THC (tetrahydrocannabinol—one of the active chemicals in marijuana and the one responsible for inducing feelings associated with “being high”) is considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Substances of this classification are not recognized to have any medical use and are deemed to have a high risk of abuse. LSD and PCP are considered comparable Schedule 1 substances as far as Texas is concerned. Recently Texas has legalized a very limited access to Medical Marijuana oils for epilepsy.
Studies that demonstrate the far-reaching and varied medical uses of marijuana hold no sway in Texas drug policy. That means that even if you obtained your marijuana legally in another state for medical reasons, if law enforcement in Texas finds you carrying it, you can land in jail.
Texas law does not care what statutes in other states exist. Texas law does not care if you are using marijuana to treat your cancer. Marijuana arrests carry heavy consequences, including up to a life sentence if you’re caught with a large enough quantity!
Point to Remember:
Texas maintains a zero tolerance policy where marijuana possession is concerned, no matter how small the quantity or what your reason is for possessing it.
A student just a semester from graduating college who had never had a violent offense in his life found himself detained by police without justification. The student knew enough to speak up for himself and remind the officer that he had no reason to detain him. Irate, the officer tried to muscle the student to the ground but was unable to. He called to another officer who came over and the two subdued him, breaking his nose and busting his lip in the process. To literally add insult to injury, they then charged the student with Felony Assault of a Peace Officer!
I took the case up with the prosecutor who finally agreed to just a few hours of community service and a couple of classes in exchange for dismissing the charges. The student went on to receive his degree without any criminal record and immediately secured an excellent job after graduation.