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Decriminalization in Texas: What Does It Mean for Medical Cannabis?

Texas dispensary weed tender preparing medical marijuana for patients

The decriminalization of weed has been a hotly debated political topic in Texas this year. Many advocates for increased access to marijuana see this as progress, especially because decriminalization is usually the first step toward legalization. Before we discuss what is—and isn’t—happening with marijuana in Texas in 2022, it’s necessary to make some distinctions.

What is Decriminalization?

Many people mistake decriminalization for legalization. There is a distinct difference between the two. Decriminalization means that possession of weed under a certain amount, in Texas or anywhere else, results in no arrest, no jail time, and no criminal record.

It’s “wrong,” according to the law, but it isn’t “criminal.”

The severity of consequences for possessing marijuana in a decriminalized environment would be similar to those of a traffic violation. While the exact penalties vary by jurisdiction, they may range from drug education to a small fine.

Currently, twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized weed.

Legalization, on the other hand, means people are free to consume marijuana recreationally under the regulations set forth by the state. The past decade has seen nineteen states vote to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use for those 21 or older. Will Texas follow suit in 2022?

What’s Happening in Texas in 2022?

Nationwide, there have been almost 100 localities that have either partially or fully decriminalized weed by enacting municipal laws or resolutions for the possession of marijuana. This includes several Texas regions such as Austin, Dallas, El Paso, and Houston.

These measures have significantly impacted the repercussions of possession. Travis County is currently the only decriminalized locality in Texas with a financial penalty. Weed possession of up to two ounces can result in a $45 fine and a 4-hour marijuana class.

In terms of decriminalization of weed in Texas, there are a few things in the works. Activists say that in November, voters will decide on the decriminalization of weed in at least five additional Texas cities: Denton, Elgin, Harker Heights, Killeen, and San Marcos.

It’s up to local officials to decide whether they will allow these campaigns to proceed as ballot initiatives or simply enact municipal law.

Despite the momentum, there is currently no statewide ballot initiative to decriminalize—let alone legalize—marijuana in Texas in 2022.

What Can We Expect for Texas Marijuana Laws?

Historically, it can take some time for a state to legalize marijuana even after it has been decriminalized statewide. Not only does public opinion have to move on the issue, but states must determine rules, regulations, tax policies, and procedures for recreational marijuana.

The most recent state to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use was Rhode Island, signed into law on May 25th, 2022. They first decriminalized it in 2013, and lawmakers approved medical marijuana back in 2006. So it took a full 16 years from allowing medical marijuana to allowing recreational marijuana.

For comparison, Texas began its Compassionate-Use Act for low-THC cannabis in 2015. We have already seen Texas expand the Compassionate-Use Program several times, but it’s unlikely that Texas will legalize marijuana in 2022.

One thing is for sure—the sooner weed is decriminalized in Texas on a statewide level, the more likely it becomes that recreational use will be legalized.

How Does This Impact Medical Marijuana in Texas?

If recreational marijuana is decriminalized, will this have an impact on medical marijuana in Texas?

The short answer is no.

Currently, if you have a qualifying condition, you can get approved for medical cannabis in Texas. Research suggests that medical marijuana can provide relief for a wide range of illnesses, disorders, and pre-existing medical conditions. When you are qualified, you will receive a Letter of Approval protecting your right to possess cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Texas 420 Doctors can help you get qualified in 60 seconds or less. Our board-certified physicians are registered with the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas (CURT) and can assist you in receiving your medical cannabis prescription within 24 hours. If you are a permanent resident of Texas, you can apply online today.

If you want to learn more about how we can assist you from a therapeutic and holistic approach, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to help.