The legalization of marijuana in some states has made it a hot topic across the nation. Although the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule One narcotic, many states have acknowledged the scientifically proven medical applications of marijuana and legalized medicinal use of the plant. Additionally, some states and even local areas, such as the City of Philadelphia, have decriminalized marijuana use and possession.
Supporters of marijuana reform argue marijuana is virtually harmless, and the most dangerous aspect of it is being caught by police with it in your possession. Additionally, Schedule One classification is reserved for substances with “no known medical uses.” This has been proven untrue in the case of marijuana, and many wonder why the federal government has not changed marijuana’s classification by now.
Detractors of marijuana reform typically argue it is a “gateway drug” that invariably leads users to do harder, more dangerous drugs. Several studies have shown this is not the case, but many Americans still hold outmoded beliefs about marijuana and its alleged dangers.
Texas Marijuana Reform
The Texas Compassionate Use Act became law on June 1 of 2015, but the state has yet to implement any tangible marijuana reforms. The difficulty lies in red tape between state and federal laws. Texas state law dictates doctors must write prescriptions for marijuana for it be legal, but federal law prevents doctors from writing marijuana prescriptions. Additionally, pharmacies must fill prescriptions, not marijuana dispensaries. The law protects doctors legally recommending marijuana to patients, but it doesn’t allow them to prescribe it.
Another problem facing marijuana reform in Texas is that the Compassionate Use Act only recognizes one medical condition as treatable by marijuana. As of now, intractable epilepsy is the only acceptable condition. Medical marijuana benefits cancer patients, individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, individuals with Parkinson’s disease, and chronic pain sufferers, and studies have documented the positive effects for these conditions. Currently, legislators have introduced a bill that would expand the qualifying conditions to the Texas Assembly, but no one has implemented it yet.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott is a staunch opponent of any type of legalized marijuana, but the citizens of Texas have differing views. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, roughly 75% of Texans support marijuana law reforms. Less than 20% believe the marijuana laws in Texas should remain unchanged.
Current Texas Marijuana Laws
One of the biggest arguments for marijuana reform is the astronomical cost of processing marijuana-related crimes like possession and purchase, which are essentially victimless crimes. Marijuana reform supporters in the Texas legislature have introduced two bills that would eliminate the criminal penalties for marijuana possession and impose a fine on citizens caught with marijuana in amounts up to one ounce.
Until the state implements different laws, medical marijuana is essentially in limbo in Texas, and individuals who purchase, sell, consume, or carry marijuana are still subject to arrest and criminal charges. As public opinion shifts more in favor of marijuana law reform, lawmakers will soon have to reconcile their personal beliefs with the will of the people. It’s difficult to ascertain the future of marijuana – medical or recreational – in Texas for now, but the various bills are signs of hope to thousands of Texans who could greatly benefit from legal access to medical marijuana.
For Texans interested in voicing their opinions to state lawmakers, the Marijuana Policy Project website offers several resources, including the best ways to contact state representatives. If you are suffering from a medical condition that marijuana may help, it’s important to protect yourself under the law. It may be a wise idea to speak with a reliable attorney about your concerns and the legality of any potential marijuana use.