Medical Marijuana in Texas
Cannabis (more commonly referred to as marijuana, but identified in the Texas Controlled Substances Act as “marihuana”) is most commonly associated with recreational use because of the euphoric effects associated with its main psychoactive compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Beyond the desire of many users to get "high," however, several other people all over the United States use marijuana for its effectiveness in treating certain medical conditions.
California was the first state in the nation to legalize cannabis for medical purposes in 1996, and as of April 2017, 29 states as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico have legalized marijuana for medical purposes (often called simply "medical marijuana"). While the Texas Legislature enacted the Texas Compassionate Use Act in 2015, the bill only allowed physicians who treat epilepsy for the purpose to prescribe low-THC cannabis only to patients who have been diagnosed with intractable epilepsy—meaning people who suffer from other debilitating medical conditions (including visitors who may be legally authorized to possess medical marijuana in their home states) can still face criminal charges in Texas for marijuana possession.
Attorney in Brownsville, TX Discusses Medical Marijuana in Texas
Were you arrested for a cannabis crime even though you need marijuana for a medical condition? Do not make any kind of statement to authorities until you have first contacted The Gracia Law Firm.
Jonathan Gracia is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Brownsville who defends clients facing all kinds of drug charges in Hidalgo County, Cameron County, and Willacy County. Call (956) 504-2211 to have our attorney review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free initial consultation.
Overview of Medical Marijuana in Cameron County
- What is the Texas Compassionate Use Act?
- How does the necessity defense work?
- Where can I find more information about medical marijuana in Brownsville?
On June 1, 2015, Governor Greg Abbot signed Senate Bill 339, otherwise known as the Texas Compassionate Use Act. The act allowed 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).
Whereas THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis that affects the brain’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), CBD is the major nonpsychoactive component of marijuana with such medical benefits as seizure treatment, pain and nausea relief, and cancer-fighting properties.
While the Texas Compassionate Use Act allows qualified physicians on the Compassionate Use Registry to prescribe low-THC cannabis only to patients with intractable epilepsy, medical use is limited to ingestion by a means of administration other than by smoking—meaning that qualifying patients are often forced to rely on CBD oils.
Lawmakers in Texas have proposed several laws in recent years that attempted to, either expand the number of eligible patients for medical marijuana, decriminalize cannabis, or legalize the drug entirely for recreational purposes.
Bills filed during the 2017 legislative session alone included two Senate resolutions that proposed constitutional amendments to be submitted to voters that would authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis as well as House bills that included one measure to make possession of certain small amounts of marijuana punishable by a civil penalties instead of a criminal penalties and another measure to make convictions for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a Class C misdemeanor instead of a Class B misdemeanor.
A necessity defense involves an alleged offender claiming that his or her alleged criminal conduct was justified because it was necessary to avoid an even greater harm. Hence, the necessity defense is often referred to as the "lesser of two evils" defense.
Tim Stevens suffered from cyclical vomiting syndrome (CVS), an illness involving sudden, repeated attacks of severe nausea, vomiting, and physical exhaustion after being diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in 1986. He found smoking marijuana helped ease his suffering.
Stevens was arrested for possessing less than 4 grams of marijuana and had no prior criminal record, but he was acquitted of marijuana possession charges on March 25, 2008. According to the libertarian magazine Reason, the jury only needed 11 minutes to return with a not guilty verdict after a trial that lasted nearly 10 hours.
The Texas Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) reported that Stevens' case was believed to be the first successful use of that affirmative defense against cannabis charges in Texas courts. Stevens’ attorney told the Austin Chronicle that he found at least two similar cases where the necessity defense had been raised, although the affirmative defense was unsuccessful and the Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the convictions in both cases.
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) | Compassionate Use Program — You can find more information about Texas’ medical marijuana program on this section of the DPS website. Learn more about licensing and registration, read recent news and updates, and view related laws and regulations. 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.” Visit this website to read success stories, find information about medical research, and view answers to frequently asked questions. You can also view media presentations and read newsletters.
The Gracia Law Firm | Brownsville Medical Marijuana Defense Lawyer
If you need cannabis for a bona fide medical condition but were arrested for a marijuana crime, it is in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal counsel. Contact The Gracia Law Firm as soon as possible.
Brownsville criminal defense attorney Jonathan Gracia represents residents of and visitors to communities all over Willacy County, Hidalgo County, and Cameron County. You can have our lawyer provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (956) 504-2211 or submit an online contact form to set up a free, confidential consultation.