There Is A Form of Legal Marijuana in Texas, For Now
Marijuana is legal for recreational use in our neighboring state of New Mexico. There are many polls in Texas that show that interest in "high" here in Texas for some sort of legalization. In fact, a recent poll conducted by The Dallas Morning News and TheUniversity of Tyler finds that 60% of Texans support recreational legalization.
Even without full legalization, there is a legal way now to get the high that marijuana gives legally in Texas. It's called delta-8
In 2018 after the passage of the 2018 Federal Farm Bill as well as House Bill 1325, passed in 2019 which legalized the growing of hemp that contains less than .3% THC, products containing a compound called Delta-8 began popping up on store shelves in Texas.
So, what is delta 8? Delta 8 is a cannabinoid derived from hemp that has some of the same effects as marijuana, including euphoria and relaxation. While Delta-8 is not the same as marijuana, it is very similar in chemical structure. Marijuana is a THC compound called delta-9. It has a double bond on the 9th carbon atom as opposed to the 8th atom in delta-8.
Delta-8 can produces the effects of marijuana but it is much less potent.
While there are now no laws expressly prohibiting the usage of delta-8 in Texas, there are also no laws outright legalizing its use. Last October 2021, The Texas Department of Health and Human Services updated their website and deemed delta-8, a Schedule 1 substance and therefore illegal. CBD and hemp retailers challenged that ruling in court and won a temporary injunction on the state's ban. The Texas Supreme Court refused to step in and reinstate the ban or hear the case.
So, long story short, for now delta-8 remains legal in Texas. There have been bills introduced in the legislature to criminalize it. So far, they have not passed.
Possession of delta-8 CAN get you prosecuted here in Texas under a few conditions. First, if you are on bond, the judge will likely have issued an order that says you cannot use or possess cannabinoids. Secondly, if you are on probation or parole. You could also be arrested with driving while intoxicated on any substance if a prosecutor's expert can claim you were operating a vehicle and were not "normal" mentally or physically due to delta-8, you can be charged with DWI.
In addition, if you use delta-8 cannabis, you will fail a drug test. Drug tests are unable to distinguish the difference between delta-8 and the illegal delta-9.
Legalizing the use of cannabinoids has been a hotly debated topic for a long time in Texas and around the country. A bill was just introduced on Thursday in the U.S. Senate called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act which would decriminalize weed on the federal level and allow states to set their own marijuana laws without fear of reprisal from the Federal Government.
Whether it passes or not will depend upon who wins the Mid-term congressional elections this fall. If you have strong feelings about legalization in Texas or nationwide, you should vote this fall for the candidates who represent your view. The fact that we're even having this discussion, means progress for those who favor not only de-criminalization but legalization for recreational use.