Reforms to TX Marijuana & THC Possession Laws DIED in 2021 – POSSESSION OF THC REMAINS A FELONY IN TEXAS

A bill almost became a law in Texas, reducing the penalties for marijuana and THC possession – Texas House Bill 2593. That’s right, Texas came closer than it ever has to decriminalizing possession of less than one ounce of marijuana; the new law would have made posssession of less than 28 grams a class C Misdemeanor (and a crime for which you could not be arrested).

More importantly, in my opinion, it would have changed the law on possession of THC concentrate to mirror that of possession of the plant itself, and make possession of up to two ounces (56 grams) of THC concentrate a class B Misdemeanor (punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $2,000 fine). Currently, possession of that amount of THC concentrate could get you up to 20 years in prison! SO WHAT HAPPPENED AND HOW DID WE GET HERE!?

As I more thoroughly explain below – basically, the law finally had enough support in the Texas legislature to pass in the Texas House of Representatives. The law then went to the Senate, and the changes to the penalties were agreed upon (shockingly), but the Senate version was modified by Lt Governor Dan Patrick and other Senate Republicans to add to the definition of a controlled Delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (“Delta 8 THC”). For those that are unfamiliar, Delta 8 THC is a mild psychotropic extract of hemp or cannabis, that is currently legal for sale in Texas. When the bill went back to the House for final editing and conference, Texas house member Joe Moody struck the Delta-8 addition to the definition of a controlled substance. This infuriated Dan Patrick, who refused to let the measure get a final vote in the Senate before it went to the governors desk, and the leigslative session expired. Womp-womp-womp.

So for at least 2 more years, the laws relating to marijuana and THC possession remain the same. The only way something could change sooner would be a change in the Federal law.

History of TX Marijuana & THC concentrate (wax, dabs, shatter, etc) Laws

The Texas Controlled Substance Act was passed in 1989, and established what is the framework still used today for determining the legality of possessing certain plants, drugs, and controlled substances in Texas. This is codified in Section 481 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.

In Texas, possession of THC concentrates differently, baed on the erroneous conclusuion that the concentrated substance was more dangerous and addictive. Take a look at other controlled substances in the same penalty group as THC concentrate, and you will find substances like MDMA (3,4-Methylene-dioxy-methamphetamine).  No one will dispute that THC is a lot different than molly, but both are treated the same under the Texas Health and Safety Code. Even if we disagree on the legality of marijuana and THC, I think all of us should agree that taking mdma.

Possession of Marijuana

Under the current version of the code, possession of Marijuana (called ‘Marihuana’ in the code) has the following potential punishments for possession of a ‘usable amount,’ of marijuana:

  • 2 ounces or less: Class B Misdemeanor (Up to 6 months in jail, up to $2,000 fine).
  • 4 ounces or less but more than 2 ounces: Class A misdemeanor (Up to 1-year in jail, up to $4,000 fine).
  • 5 pounds or less but more than 4 ounces:  State Jail Felony (6 months – 2 Yrs in state jail, and a fine up to $10,000)
  • 50 pounds or less but more than 5 pounds: 3rd Degree Felony.
  • 2,000 pounds or less but more than 50 pounds: 2nd Degree Felony.*
  • More than 2,000 pounds: 5 to 99 years, or life, and a fine up to $50,000.

Possession of THC Concentrate

Unbelievably, they treat the concentrated form of cannabis much differently in Texas. Possession of any detectable amount of a substance that is made from Marijuana that has over 0.3% THC by weight is a FELONY in Texas!

Possession of THC Concentrate has the following criminal consequences in Texas:

  • Less than one gram: State Jail Felony (6 months – 2 Yrs in state jail, and a fine up to $10,000)
  • 1 to 4 grams: 3rd Degree Felony (2 – 10 Yrs in TDCJ, and a fine up to $10,000)
  • 4 to 400 grams: 2nd Degree Felony (2 – 20 Yrs in TDCJ, and a fine up to $10,000) 
  • More than 400 grams: 1st Degree Felony (5 to 99 yrs or life in TDCJ, and a fine not to exceed $50,000)

HOW THE CHANGES IN TX CANNABIS LAW DIED IN THE 2021 LEGISLATIVE TERM

House Bill 2593 was introduced by House Speaker Pro Tem Joe Moody. It was sponsored by Senator Nathan Johnson. Again, it would have reduced the penalty for possession of less than 2oz of substances derived from cannabis (concentrates like oils, vapes, edibles, infused products, etc) from a felony (according to the amount, as shown in the table above) to a Class B Misdemeanor. As you can see from the table of Marijuana penalties above, this bill would make these concentrate containing substances to be treated how we currently treat Marijuana flower. It would cover vape cartridges, pens, tinctures, or infused lotions as well.

The bill passed in the Texas House, and moved to the Senate. As passed out of the House and Senate State Affairs Committee HB 2593 had strong support for being passed. However, Senate Republicans led by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick added an amendmet during the floor debate which would have added Delta-8 THC to Penalty Group 2 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, just like Delta-9 THC (effectively making what is now an unregulated market, summarily illegal to sell or possess the substance). Because there was different versions from both chambers, House Speaker Joe Moody decided took the Bill to a Conference Committee to resolve the discrepencies between the two versions. 

Speaker Moody was successful in getting the problematic amendment removed during the Conference Committee – with the consequence of angering Senate Republicans and Dan Patrick, who felt they had compromised to pass a Marijuana law reform bill they had resisted passing for so many years. So the conference report was approved by the House, but in retaliation for striking the Delta-8 language from the Senate version of the Bill, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick chose inaction, refusing to recognize the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Nathan Johnson. Due to the HB 2593 being unable to present the Conference Committee Report before the expiration of the legislative term, the bill died.

How did this get in here? 😉

Yes, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is a bastard for doing this – but did Speaker Moody not also get a little too greedy? Progress is slow, had he accepted the compromise relating to Delta-8 THC, then Delta 9 would not be a Felony for another 2 years! So listen, we made progress on reforming Marijuana laws this session, but I think we missed an opportunity by lacking the finesse to get the important legislation passed.

ARRESTED FOR POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA or MARIJUANA CONCENTRATE (THC)?

Call LeGrande Law today to find out your options!

If accused of any drug offense, including Possession of THC Concentrate, you need an attorney that has a track record of winning drug cases.  Attorney Tristan LeGrande gets results – CALL NOW – FREE Consultation!

Contact attorney Tristan LeGrande by calling 281-684-3500

http://www.legrandelaw.com

http://www.houstondrugattorney.net

Houston Drug Attorney Tristan LeGrande

Tristan LeGrande – LeGrande Law

(Possession of a Controlled Substance in Penalty Group 2, PCS PG2)

THC VAPING: FACTS & FICTION

There has been a lot in the news recently about lung diseases associated with vaping products. Much of the news coverage has identified “illicit THC” vaping products as being the main culprit – but how much of this news coverage is truth, based on facts, and how much of the media coverage is fear-mongering and misinformation? This blog-post will attempt to put inform the public about some of the facts about THC vapes, and dispel some of the fiction that has been disseminated by the news media.

FACT: LUNG DISEASES HAVE DEVELOPED IN PEOPLE AFTER VAPING PRODUCTS THAT CONTAINED THC.

In a press release from October 8, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), informed the following regarding the outbreak of vape associated lung diseases:

  • 1,299 cases of lung disease associated with some type of vaping
  • Twenty-six deaths have been reported in 21 states in the US
  • Most patients reported a history of using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products. The latest national and state findings suggest products containing THC, particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources. (e.g. friends, illicit dealers), are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak.
  • Exclusive use of nicotine containing products has been reported by some patients with lung injury cases, and many patients with lung injury report combined use of THC- and nicotine-containing products. The possibility that nicotine-containing products play a role in this outbreak cannot be excluded.

FICTION: VAPING THC IS A CAUSE OF LUNG DISEASES

As with all illicit drugs, they are not regulated. Because they are not regulated, some of the vaping products that are being sold on the black market contain additives and flavorings that are linked to lung diseases. HOWEVER, the THC itself is NOT the cause of the outbreak of lung diseases!
It’s not clear how often vaping might lead to lung trouble or who is at highest risk. For example, are lung problems more common among vapers who already have breathing problems (such as asthma) or who use marijuana? Is it more common among younger individuals? Does use of e-cigarettes cause the lung disease? Or is an added substance (such as marijuana) or another contaminant the culprit? Since the FDA does not actively regulate e-cigarettes, it’s particularly difficult to get answers.

FACT: MORE CASES OF LUNG DISEASE HAVE DEVELOPED IN THOSE VAPING ILLICITLY MANUFACTURED THC

Most of those that have been diagnoses with a vaping related lung illness reported a history of vaping (THC)-containing vaping products. This has been reported in numerous stories in the media (albeit in a misleading way).

FICTION: VAPING LEGAL THC CONTAINING VAPING PRODUCTS IS DANGEROUS

There has not been a single reported vape related illness from the use of legally obtained THC containing vaping products. I challenge anyone to come forward with information about a vaping related illness where someone never consumed an illicit THC containing product (and I will happily change my position).

BEFORE YOU PLEAD GUILTY TO POSSESSION OF THC…

Call LeGrande Law for a FREE consultation

If accused of a drug crime, including Possession of Marijuana or Cannabis Oil (THC), you need an attorney with proven results, winning cases.  Attorney Tristan LeGrande gets results – CALL NOW for a Free Consultation!

Contact attorney Tristan LeGrande

281-684-3500



Charged w/ Possession of Marijuana or THC? DO NOT PLEAD GUILTY!

First and foremost, there have been recent changes in the law concerning what is defined as marijuana and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) under the Texas Health and Safety Code. I discussed these changes in the law in a recent blog post TX Hemp & Marijuana Law – New Laws for 2019.

Essentially, the new law states that any plant or substance derived from a plant, that has a THC concentration less than 0.3% is no longer defined as a controlled substance (or marijuana) for purposes of the Texas Health and Safety Code’s punishments for related offenses.

WHY TO NEVER PLEAD GUILTY TO POSSESSION OF MJ OR THC

1. TX crime labs Cannot quantify how much THC is in ANY substance

None of the Texas crime labs that are used to test for the presence of controlled substances has the ability to test for the QUANTITY of THC. The only thing that they can test for is the PRESENCE of THC. The GC/MS laboratory analysis are very sensitive, and can detect even 1 mg of THC, however, they DO NOT have the ability to quantify how much THC a suspected substance has.

This creates a HUGE problem for District Attorney’s Offices across the state. Simply put, they cannot prove that the suspected substance is actually controlled and regulated as a PG 2 substance, marijuana, or Hemp, because it has a THC concentration below the threshold level.

2. New law has enactment date of September 1, 2019 – HOWEVER, statutory construction dictates it be applied to ALL future cases.

Without nerding out too much…follow me on the statutory construction of a new law like the Texas Hemp Farm Act to understand WHY THE NEW LAW IS RETROACTIVE:

  • The new law is outside the Texas Penal Code
  • The new law is ambiguous because it has an enactment date, but no enabling legislation or a savings provision (basically this means that the new law does not specify to what offenses it applies to; eg, if a person is arrested before the enactment date and tried after the enactment date.
  • When a law is ambiguous, the Texas Government Code gives guidance in the interpetation and application of a new statute under Chapter 311, TX GOV CODE.
  • Under the Texas Government code: “If the penalty, forfeiture, or punishment for any offense is reduced by a reenactment, revision, or amendment of a statute, the penalty, forfeiture, or punishment, if not already imposed, shall be imposed according to the statute as amended.” TX GOV CODE 311.031(b)
  • Since the penalty or punishment for substances with less than 0.3% THC is reduced, the new statute applies, despite when the alleged offense was committed.
  • Applying the new Statute requires that the jury find beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance you were alleged to have possessed contained a THC concentration over 0.3%.

3. If they cannot prove the quantity of THC in a given substance, they cannot prove guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

The labs cannot tell the difference between 95% THC and 0.00001 % THC.

BEFORE YOU PLEAD GUILTY TO POSSESSION OF THC OR MARIJUANA…

Call LeGrande Law for a FREE consultation

If accused of a drug crime, including Possession of Marijuana or Cannabis Oil (THC), you need an attorney with proven results, winning cases.  Attorney Tristan LeGrande gets results – CALL NOW for a Free Consultation!

Contact attorney Tristan LeGrande

281-684-3500

TX Hemp & Marijuana Law – New Laws for 2019

The laws have changed in Texas for 2019 and Low-THC products like hemp plant, hemp-oil, and CBD-oil are legal, if they contain less than 0.3% THC.  This is nowhere near full-scale legalization of cannabis, or even legalization for medical use – but, it IS a big step for the state of Texas.  Additionally, there are implications on Marijuana and Cannabis oil (THC) prosecutions, as a result of the new lab, and the State laboratories inability to quantify, or measure, the amount of THC in a plant or oil.  The range of consequences for possession of the plant or the oil is more drastic than ever across the state of Texas – in some neighboring counties you could face the disparate consequences of a dismissal with a class completion in one county, or a guilty plea or felony trial in another.

What does the new law say?

On June 10, 2019, Governor Abbot signed House Bill 1325, what has become known as the Hemp Farming Act (Act). The Act was passed with the intention of promoting the cultivation and processing of hemp and hemp products.  See HB 1325 sec. 2(b)(2). Although it is agreed that the bill became effective upon signing, it is disputed whether it applies retroactively

Under the new law “hemp” plant, and its seeds, derivatives, extracts,etc., with a (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3 percent.

How does this affect people charged with Marijuana or THC oil?

The unintended consequence of the law change is that there is added difficulty proving possession of Marijuana and THC, or cannabis oil.  This is because the laboratories around the state cannot distinguish between Hemp that contains less than 0.3% THC, and higher concentration Cannabis plant or THC-oil.  The labs in the state of TX can currently only detect the presence of THC and cannot quantify the amount. 

Now, to prove possession of marijuana or THC-oil, the state must prove possession and also prove that the substance is actually marijuana or a THC containing product with over 0.3% THC. 

The added element that the State of Texas must now prove in a Marijuana or THC-oil case is that “the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the marijuana contained THC greater than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.” COnsidering that the labs cannot prove up the allegation (unless new methods are develloped and implemented), the State must prove this up through other evidence, including admissions and physical evidence indicating the item has a higher THC concentration.  This is the element that has prompted many prosecutors to no longer accept marijuana charges, and to go so far as to instruct law enforcement agencies not to file marijuana cases unless THC levels can be proven to be above the 0.3 percent threshold.

If I am suspected of Marijuana or THC oil possession, what should I do?

#1 DO NOT make any admissions about possession of Marijuana or THC-oil.

2 – DO NOT keep Marijuana or THC-oil products in the original packaging that indicates it is a high-THC cannabis product!

CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA OR THC?

If accused of a drug crime, including Possession of Marijuana or Cannabis Oil (THC), you need an attorney with proven results, winning cases.  Attorney Tristan LeGrande gets results – CALL NOW for a Free Consultation!

Contact attorney Tristan LeGrande

281-684-3500