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Changing marijuana concentrate laws in Texas

Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance
Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

If you get caught with any sort of marijuana concentrate in Texas, it’s an automatic felony. Do not pass go, instead spend $10,000 and a minimum of 180 days in jail.

Compare that to possession of marijuana under 2 ounces, and you’re only facing a class B misdemeanor, even if it has the same amount of THC in it as a small amount of concentrate. In short, the laws aren’t consistent in application.

One north Texas resident aims to provide a bill to state legislators for the 2017 session that will change this.

“In Texas, marijuana under 2 ounces is a class B misdemeanor, whereas if you take that 2 ounces of marijuana and extract cannabinoids from it and produce 10 grams of wax, even with the same original weight and chemical content, it is now an instant felony,” say Marshall Williams.

“This is a felony since you would be charged with THC possession, not marijuana possession. The law in Texas makes a distinction between the two, even when THC is present inside the marijuana.”

Williams says his bill establishes a legal definition for “hashish” in the Texas penal code. “As written right now the definition would be: ‘Hashish’ means the resin or oils extracted from a part of the Cannabis sativa L. plant or a compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the resin or oils.”

The new penalties being proposed here are identical to the current penalties for marijuana possession, just scaled down to 20 percent of the original weight, which Williams says is approximately what you would get from a high-yield extraction method.

“You get the same penalty for 10 grams of hashish as you get for 2 ounces of marijuana. The bill also applies the same logic and criminal penalty assignment to delivery of hashish and delivery of hashish to a child.”

The legislation that Williams plans to present is not a decriminalization bill he stresses, saying that “this bill isn’t attempting to make a major reform statement, this bill is merely applying common sense to how we enforce cannabis laws in Texas.”

“If you take a 20mg pain killer and extract the active ingredient from all the inactive sugar and other pill fillers, we don’t prosecute you harder for doing so, we prosecute you for the amount of active drugs. There is no reason why 1000 mg of THC in a marijuana bud should be treated differently from 1000 mg of THC in a cannabis oil. It’s the same chemical, the same amount with the same effect. They should be treated identically.”

Texas Marijuana Policy Advocacy Workshops — January 2018
Texas Marijuana Policy Advocacy Workshops — January 2018

Touching on a bill from the 2015 session that would have legalized marijuana, Williams says that not all forms of marijuana would have been legal.

“Everyone liked to talk about how HB 2165 last session was going to completely legalize marijuana, and it would, but only marijuana under Texas law. Under HB 2165, cannabis oils and extracts would still have been very much illegal. Once the definition for hashish is in place, we can build off of it to create better legislation in the future, and it would also give the administrative side of SB 339 (The Texas Compassionate Use Act) better chances to later integrate the full spectrum of cannabinoids into their medical regulation programs.”

Williams says that he decided to write this bill to fill what he sees as the need for citizen involvement in government.

“Lobbying is great, calling your representatives is great, but if you have the power to do more, you should take advantage of that.”

He adds, “I enjoy reading long legal documents. I appreciate the fine nuances of the law and the way it is written. Because of this, I undertook the initiative to write a bill. This gives me the advantage of going to Austin, not just with an idea to propose to a legislator, who will have to take time to research the bill, research how the law is written and formulate a good solution to the problem, but I get to go in with a packaged problem-solving bill.”

He says that legislators don’t have a lot of time to write bills, so he hopes that by bringing an already written bill that it will be more likely to be taken up. Williams also states that he has spoken with a number of representatives and candidates running for office and has found them all receptive to his bill.

Williams, an application developer from Denton, says that whoever wins his House district will get the first opportunity to file his bill, and he plans to write two others as well, one pertaining to cannabis, and the other a general drug prosecution bill. He has also drafted an encryption bill, but has not decided if he will present it yet.

To read the bill, click here.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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