Is It Legal To Bring Marijuana Into Texas From Colorado?
This question has been raised frequently over the past three years, and especially the past several months with the new laws regarding marijuana use that were passed in Colorado.
The decriminalization of possessing small amounts of marijuana in other states has put Texans on notice. While lawmakers and citizens continue to raise the question, as of right now transporting marijuana from Colorado into Texas, even in small amounts (1 to 2 ounces), is illegal.
Isn’t decriminalization of marijuana part of the Democratic Party platform?
Yes, it was made official in 2015, but that still doesn’t make possession of the drug legal; it just means that party members support the possibility of changing the regulations currently in place. Until a law is passed that alters these regulations, you can serve time in prison and/or pay a fine for possession of cannabis.
Deregulation in neighboring states, like Colorado and Washington State, have added confusion to this debate. We will try to lay down the law that is currently on the books, starting with Colorado.
Can I buy marijuana if I am in Colorado?
Colorado's law on recreational marijuana use went into effect January 1 of this year. The biggest difference in the Colorado statute depends on whether you are a resident or you are from out of state. Residents can buy up to an ounce of marijuana from a licensed dispensary, as long as they are 21 or older and have a valid form of Colorado ID. Out-of-towners can purchase up to a quarter of an ounce.
One Colorado cannabis shop owner based out of Telluride said that during his first week of opening, 70% of his clientele were from Texas.
The most important thing to remember, though, is if you are from Texas, and once you cross state lines back into the Lone Star State, Colorado's laws don’t apply. You may have bought the marijuana legally in Colorado, but it is illegal as soon as you cross the Texas state border.
Will the laws on marijuana change for Texas?
Politicians have indicated as much, but as of yet, nothing new is on the books. Republican Rick Perry lent his support to deregulating the drug not only for personal use but for medical relief as well. Other lawmakers have joined the battle adding their voices to his. The statistical breakdown according to the Marijuana Policy Project in Texas looks something like this:
- 61% of voters support the reducing penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana
- 58% support granting access to medical marijuana for severely ill patients
- 58% support taxing and deregulating small amounts of marijuana similarly to other states
For now, the laws remain unchanged.
What happens if I am caught with marijuana in Texas?
In Texas, the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana could translate to six months in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. Law enforcement makes over 70,000 arrests for marijuana-related offenses every year. Nearly all of those arrests – 98% to be exact – were for possession. Marijuana intoxication can also be used as grounds to charge someone with a DWI.
As other more serious crimes, like home invasions and burglaries, continue to go unsolved, lawmakers are questioning whether or not time could be better spent if the drug is deregulated.
That decision is still up for debate. In the meantime, learn the laws regarding this issue to safeguard yourself against risking unnecessary penalties.
There has been a spike in possession cases ever since the drug has been readily available, without repercussions, in other states. If this has happened to you, speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. Do not try to represent yourself, it will backfire.
The law firm Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C. in Amarillo, Texas has seen high rates of prosecution in the border counties from New Mexico, Colorado, and Oklahoma, as well as North Texas. Our lawyers want to stress that marijuana is not legal to bring across state lines. You cannot possess it and you cannot sell it. If you are caught, you will be arrested. If you have any questions about the legality of marijuana and what your rights are, contact our Amarillo criminal lawyers today.