History of CBD and Cannabis: Texas
Before changes were made in the seventies, Texas was widely regarded to have the harshest cannabis possession laws in the country. Carrying even one ounce of marijuana was enough to land offenders anywhere from two years to life in prison, on top of resulting in a permanent criminal record and crippling fines.
Since then, many municipalities and statewide protests have created slight shifts in the severity of nonviolent drug offenses. Though it’s still a crime to carry cannabis, urban cities have shifted focus completely away from marijuana arrests and more towards the problem of drug trafficking in recent years.
Much of Texas’ residents and lawmakers diverse attitudes towards cannabis owes itself towards historical misperceptions surrounding marijuana use.
Cannabis, CBD, and Texas
At the dawn of the twentieth century, marijuana was seen as an increasing problem throughout the country. Called “loco weed” by Mexican migrants in Southern Texas, marijuana was associated with lawlessness, mania, and murder.
Soon enough, the city of El Paso became the first municipality in the United States to outright ban cannabis in 1915. Just a year previous, a police officer was murdered in the city by a man who was believed to be high on marijuana, resulting in widespread panic throughout law enforcement agencies.
In the decade that followed, cannabis slowly grew more restricted throughout the entire state. El Paso’s decision was followed by a statewide ban on the trade of cannabis in 1917, setting in motion the legal framework required to finally ban the substance by 1931.
It would take another four decades until conversation opened up about marijuana again. After arrest rates were published, residents pushed for a significant reduction in cannabis offense penalties. Since then, possessing up to two ounces of cannabis was decreased to a misdemeanor, which could result in six months of jail time, fines, and a criminal record.
Aside from decreasing penalties, there has been little statewide movement towards full legalization and decriminalization. However, industrially crafted hemp products, such as low THC CBD, were formally legalized for use, sale, and distribution in June of 2019.
Though it seems like a small shift, the legalization of hemp required a complete overhaul of the state’s definition of marijuana. Marijuana is now defined as any plant higher than 0.3 percent concentration in THC. Throughout the summer, hundreds of marijuana charges were dropped due to the shortage of THC testers available.
In terms of pro-cannabis legislation, it’s unclear how far the state legislature will go in the next few years. Much of the local polity is constituted of conservative and religious members who are opposed to any softening on drug laws, especially as trafficking continues to mount along the border.
That said, El Paso has reversed its one-hundred year old decision as the city council now fights for national conversation on cannabis criminalization. Many residents believe the solution to drug cartel violence is full legalization.