Medical Marijuana in Texas
More than half the states in the country have now legalized some form of cannabis for medical use or simple recreational use. In 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 339 (SB 339), otherwise known as the Texas Compassionate Use Act, which would allow a limited number of qualifying patients to access low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) forms of marijuana (referred to in Texas statutes as “marihuana”).
The Department of Public Safety (DPS) is required to license at least three dispensing organizations by September 1, 2017, but many other Texans in need will be and are currently left to risk facing criminal charges for marijuana possession until their medical conditions are recognized as being qualifying conditions. Additionally, visitors who may be legally authorized in their home states to possess cannabis can be arrested for possessing marijuana while in the Lone Star State.
Georgetown Lawyer Discusses Medical Marijuana in Texas
If you have been charged with any kind of cannabis-related offense in Central Texas despite your marijuana being necessary for medical purposes, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Price & Twine, PLLC represents residents of and visitors to such communities as Georgetown, Temple, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Killeen, Liberty Hill, and many surrounding areas of Williamson County and Bell County.
Georgetown criminal defense attorney Michael J. Price can investigate all the circumstances surrounding your case and fight to possibly get the criminal charges reduced or dismissed. Call (512) 354-1880 today to receive a free, confidential consultation that will allow our firm to review your case and help you understand all of your legal options.
Medical Marijuana in Texas Information Center
- What laws does Texas have relating to medical marijuana?
- Are there any legal defenses that authorized patients have against marijuana charges?
- Where can I learn more about medical marijuana in Georgetown?
Medical Marijuana Legislation in Texas
The Texas Compassionate Use Act that Governor Abbott signed into law on June 1, 2015, is intended to allow for qualifying patients to access “low-THC cannabis,” which is defined under Texas Occupations Code § 169.001 as “the plant Cannabis sativa L., and any part of that plant or any compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, preparation, resin, or oil of that plant that contains” both of the following:
- not more than 0.5 percent by weight of THC; and
- not less than 10 percent by weight of cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD is the non-psychoactive cannabis compound that has been found to have a wide range of medical benefits, but THC is the euphoric compound that makes users feel high. Qualified physicians will be able to prescribe low-THC cannabis only to patients with intractable epilepsy, but medical use is limited to ingestion by a means of administration other than by smoking, so qualifying patients will likely be forced to rely on CBD oils.
Prescribing physicians are required to join the Compassionate Use Registry and can only prescribe low-THC cannabis if two or more different treatments approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not alleviate the patient’s seizures. The only parties that will be allowed to cultivate low-THC cannabis in Texas will be dispensing organizations registered with DPS.
Lawmakers in Texas have proposed several other laws to either expand the number of patients eligible for medical marijuana or decriminalize recreational cannabis possession. Some of the bills that have already been filed for the 2017 legislative session include:
- House Bill 58 would create a specialty court for certain first-time marijuana possession offenders; imposing a fee for participation;
- House Bill 81 and Senate Bill 170 would both make possession of certain small amounts of marihuana punishable by a civil penalty instead of a criminal penalty and create an exception to prosecution for possession of associated drug paraphernalia;
- House Bill 82 would make a conviction for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana as a Class C misdemeanor instead of Class B misdemeanor, unless the alleged offender has been previously convicted three or more times;
- Senate Joint Resolution 17 proposes a constitutional amendment submitted to the voters at an election to be held on November 6, 2018 that would authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis; and
- Senate Joint Resolution 18 proposes a constitutional amendment submitted to the voters at an election to be held on November 6, 2018 that would authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis for medical use.
Necessity Defense in Georgetown Medical Marijuana Cases
In 2008, the Texas Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) reported that an Amarillo man was acquitted of possession of marijuana by successfully raising a medical necessity defense in what was believed to be the first successful use of that affirmative defense against cannabis charges in Texas courts. According to the libertarian magazine Reason, the trial for Tim Stevens lasted about 10 hours but the jury only needed 11 minutes to return a not guilty verdict.
Under Texas Penal Code § 9.22, criminal conduct is justified under the necessity defense if:
- the alleged offender reasonably believes the conduct is immediately necessary to avoid imminent harm;
- the desirability and urgency of avoiding the harm clearly outweigh, according to ordinary standards of reasonableness, the harm sought to be prevented by the law proscribing the conduct; and
- a legislative purpose to exclude the justification claimed for the conduct does not otherwise plainly appear.
Essentially, the necessity defense argues that a person committing the crime of smoking marijuana is the lesser of two evils compared to the imminent harm prevented by the law the alleged offender broke. Stevens, who was HIV-positive and suffered from nausea and cyclical vomiting syndrome so severe that he required hospitalization and blood transfusions in the past, benefitted from expert testimony that helped establish cannabis is demonstrably effective at treating such symptoms and no medical alternatives proved as effective.
Texas Medical Marijuana Resources
Texas DPS | Compassionate Use Program — Visit this section of the DPS website for information about Texas’ medical marijuana program. You can view related laws and regulations, learn more about licensing and registration, and read recent news and updates. You can also find answers to frequently asked questions.
Texas Coalition for Compassionate Care (TCCC) — TCCC identifies itself as “a non-profit, totally volunteer organization advocating for communities, families, clinicians, and caregivers who daily care for our sick, pained, and dying, the safe access to physician recommended cannabinoid medicines.” On this website, you can find information about medical research, read success stories, and view answers to frequently asked questions. You can also read newsletters and view media presentations.
Texas NORML — Texas NORML is a trans-partisan, educational 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that focuses on cannabis law reform. In addition to medical use, you can also find information about legal issues and industrial hemp on this website. NORML also provides an overview of Texas’ CBD-Specific Marijuana Law.
Price & Twine, PLLC | Georgetown Medical Marijuana Attorney
Were you arrested in Central Texas for possessing cannabis that you needed for medical purposes? Do not make any kind of statement to authorities until you have contacted Price & Twine, PLLC.
Michael J. Price is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Georgetown who defends clients throughout Williamson County and Bell County, including Belton, Harker Heights, Leander, Taylor, Hutto, and several other nearby communities. He can provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (512) 354-1880 or submit an online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.