Although the possession or sale of marijuana is still illegal under federal drug laws, there are only about half a dozen states in which it remains fully illegal. More than forty states, including Texas, have relaxed their marijuana laws to allow for the legal sale of CBD products or even gone so far as to allow legal recreational and medicinal use of marijuana. One bill currently pending before the Texas legislature would allow adults (defined as those age 21 and over) to possess a certain amount of marijuana without facing criminal penalties. Learn more about House Bill 447 and what its passage could mean for Texans.
What’s in House Bill 447?
Bill 447 would allow Texas adults to use, possess, and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana flower or up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrate for their personal use. It also prohibits Texas landlords from banning marijuana use from their premises, though any general smoking bans may still remain in effect. Texan homeowners and renters can grow up to 15 marijuana plants on their property, so long as these plants are not visible or accessible to children or the general public.
Finally, under House Bill 447, Texas adults may transfer to another adult, “without remuneration,” the same amount of marijuana they are allowed to possess, as long as this transfer is not publicized or advertised. In other words, private citizens may donate marijuana to one another, but cannot accept money for this drug unless they are a state-licensed retail cannabis operation.
What Would Change with the Passage of This Bill?
If House Bill 447 is signed into law, cities and counties will be allowed to designate areas for marijuana smokers to smoke in public. (It’s unclear whether these may be the same areas that are already designated for cigarette smoking.) Those who possess or transfer marijuana will no longer be subject to criminal and civil penalties, including civil forfeiture of items used to facilitate a drug transaction. For those who already have a marijuana-related criminal conviction on their record, it may become easier to seek expungement.
Another area in which this law could make a major difference involves the child welfare and custody arenas. Under current law, the use of marijuana can be seen as grounds to modify custody on the basis of a parent’s drug use. If any other allegations of abuse or neglect are made along with a positive drug test, the state Department of Family and Protective Services could step in to remove the children or require the parents to complete drug testing or treatment services. But if House Bill 447 is enacted, DFPS may no longer use a parent’s marijuana use as a basis to initiate a child welfare investigation, while judges in custody matters may no longer be able to use a parent’s marijuana use against them.
However, selling marijuana to another person outside a state-licensed retail shop will carry the same criminal and civil consequences as it does under current Texas law. Retailers that sell marijuana to someone under age 21 may be fined or even shut down, depending on the extent of the violation. Though this bill doesn’t fully legalize marijuana, it significantly reduces the potential penalties associated with its use.