Marijuana is not legal in Texas. Recreational use is prohibited. Narrow medical exceptions apply to low-THC/high-CBD product use and possession by qualified, severely ill patients.
The penalties for marijuana in Texas are very steep. Personal possession of under 2 oz of raw marijuana flower can result in a misdemeanor conviction, up to 180 days in jail, and a $2,000 fine. Possession of 4 oz results in a mandatory minimum 180 days in jail.
Cultivation penalties are based on the plant’s entire weight—which can mean mandatory jail time for a single plant.
You can get a $500 fine just for a pipe.
You can get a minimum 180 days in jail for having a THC vaporizer cartridge from California. If you make or sell any concentrated cannabis, even just bubble hash, it’s a felony minimum 180 days in jail. Making a measly four grams or more of hash triggers a minimum five-year prison sentence.
Sentence enhancements kick in for involving anyone under age 18, or being near a school. And any drug offense triggers a driver’s license suspension.
Don’t mess around in Texas, which had 64,949 marijuana arrests in 2016.
Texas does have a limited medical cannabis card program that allows low-THC/high-CBD for qualifying patients.
Texas recreational and medical marijuana legalization efforts
Texas recreational and medical legalization efforts are slow going. Changing the law requires an act of the legislature, which only meets every two years for 140 days. Texas has no ballot initiative process like California. There’s currently no active legalization bill to support, and the last policy reform bill did not pass.
Several Texas senators and house representatives are up for re-election in the fall of 2020. Both pro and anti-cannabis candidates are either up for re-election, or challenging incumbents. More pro-cannabis representatives could advance reforms. This demonstrates the importance of voting in local races. Texas residents can register to vote here.
In 2019, a decriminalization bill overwhelmingly passed the House but died in the Senate.
Support for medical is high and recreational is growing. Some 73% of Texans in a 2019 Emerson poll supported at least medical cannabis legalization; 38% supported adult-use. Just 14% supported ongoing prohibition. Even 62% of Republicans in a Texas Tribune poll support reducing punishments for pot possession.
Local decriminalization in Texas
A number of Texas cities have enacted cannabis decriminalization policies. However, Texas drug laws emanate from the state, not local, law. In response, the city of Austin formally defunded pot arrests by its local police department in July 2020. A number of large cities have cite and release policies, or drug diversion, for first-time personal possession.
Texas cannabis DUI laws
Like everywhere else, it’s illegal to drive while under the influence. Cannabis is a controlled substance in Texas, and you can’t drive intoxicated on a controlled substance. “Intoxicated” is defined as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of … a controlled substance.”
In Texas, it is implied that the driver shall consent to a chemical test of their breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining the presence of drugs and/or alcohol. However, an individual suspected of being under the influence of cannabis has the right to refuse to submit to a chemical test, and no penalties or sanctions apply for refusing to submit to chemical testing for drugs. But refusing testing can be used against you in court.
The penalties are severe for intoxicated driving on any substance, starting at a minimum six days in jail if you don’t hurt anyone. If you hit and kill a cop while drunk, you’re doing at least five years in prison and a maximum $100,000 fine.
A second DUI triggers an automatic 30-day jail sentence, and a third puts you away for a minimum of two years.
Medical Marijuana Laws in Texas
Despite some legislative support in the last session, no comprehensive medical marijuana policy has been enacted in the state. On June 1, 2015, Texas did pass a low THC cannabis oil bill. Qualified patients are required to first get prescriptions from two certified specialists, at which point they will be legally allowed to use cannabis oil with at most 0.5% THC.
While the low THC medical cannabis law has been put into effect, many are skeptical that the system cannot be successfully implemented as written. Because doctors are required to “prescribe” rather than “recommend” or “certify” patients, very few physicians are willing to do so because prescribing a Schedule I substance puts their DEA license to prescribe controlled substances at risk.
Initially, Texas’ medical marijuana law applied only to the treatment of intractable epilepsy. In June 2019, Gov. Greg Abbot signed into law House Bill 3703 to expand the program to more conditions.
Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana under Texas’ medical marijuana now include:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Huntington’s Disease
- Intractable Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Terminal Cancer
CBD (cannabidiol) from Hemp Oil in Texas
Hemp-derived CBD products are legal under Federal Law in the United States; however, individual state laws are dynamic and fluid. Individual states may enact their own laws governing hemp-derived CBD.
Cultivation of Cannabis in Texas
The cultivation of marijuana for personal or medical use is illegal in Texas. In June 2019, however, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot (R) signed House Bill 1325 to legalize the commercial production of hemp and hemp-derived CBD oil as long as they contain no more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol. The new law was in response to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalizes hemp at the federal level and allows states to pass policies permitting hemp production. The Texas Department of Agriculture will soon submit the rules and guidelines for hemp production in the state to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and it is expected that hemp production will start in Texas during the 2020 crop year.
Legal Status of Other U.S. States
Stay up to date on the latest state legislation, referendums, and public opinion polls. Our Marijuana Legalization Map allows you to browse the current status of medical and recreational marijuana laws in other U.S. states and territories.
Common questions about marijuana legalization in Texas
People have questions about edibles, CBD, hemp, and medical cards in Texas—here are the details.
Are edibles legal in Texas?
No. Edibles, like pot brownies, are very much not legal and come with severe jail time based on the weight of the plate of brownies, not the weight of the THC inside. This could result in prison time for a first offense.
Is Texas a legal recreational state?
No, Texas is not a recreational weed state. It’s an extreme prohibition state.
Is CBD legal in Texas?
Yes, CBD is legal in Texas if it has under 0.3% THC. State lawmakers followed federal hemp legalization laws, and Texas has begun licensing hemp farms and manufacturers under House Bill 1325. CBD products from the national market are widely available, but loosely regulated.
Is smokable hemp allowed in Texas?
No, smokable hemp is prohibited in Texas under a 2020 rule.
Can you get a medical marijuana card in Texas?
Yes. The severely ill may apply for a medical card for low-THC products (less than 0.5% THC) through the Texas Compassionate Use Program. The program is very limited.