In 2012, Colorado legalized the possession and sale of marijuana products. Texas has not followed suit, and as a result, many young people traveling from Colorado to Texas with legally-purchased marijuana products have found themselves in serious trouble when found in possession of THC edibles.
What is the Difference Between Marijuana and THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol, abbreviated THC, is one of at least 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis. THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis. THC is typically added to food products and consumed.
Marijuana is one of the names given to the Cannabis sativa plant when it is used as a drug. The active ingredient in marijuana is THC. Marijuana is typically ingested by smoking the leaves.
It is common for edibles to be made with concentrated THC resin, the main psychoactive chemical found in marijuana leaves. By using THC oil, edibles can be made into gummies, candies and more consumables. THC oil can also be purchased on its own and added to more foods and drinks.
THC vs Marijuana in Colorado
THC products—usually in the form of edibles—and marijuana are treated virtually the same under Colorado law. THC and marijuana are legal to possess, sell and consume. Not so in Texas.
Edibles, or cannabis-infused food and drinks make marijuana more accessible. There are now thousands of ways for law-abiding citizens to consume THC in Colorado and get high.
Studies show that up to 60 per cent of all products sold at Colorado’s dispensaries are edibles. Not only are edibles popular, they are easy to consume and easy to transport.
Texans returning from Colorado often bring edibles home, where possession of even a small amount of THC is a felony offense.
Marijuana in Texas
In Texas, possession of small amounts of marijuana (less than four ounces) is a misdemeanor crime, punishable by no more than a year in jail and a $2000 fine. Most first offenders face probation as a worst-case scenario, and a good lawyer may be able to negotiate pretrial diversion or other forms of plea deals that avoid conviction and collateral consequences, deals that can result in an expunction of an arrest record.
Some jurisdictions are not lenient in marijuana possession cases, especially if the case involves a subsequent offender or delivery of marijuana. Such cases can result in short jail stints, driver’s license suspensions and final convictions that will remain on a person’s criminal record.
THC in Texas
Possession of any amount of THC, even less than a gram, is a felony offense. Also, when THC is mixed with another substance in an edible (cookie, gummies), the amount of the other substance—known under the law as a dilutant or adulterant—can be included in the weight of the THC possession amount.
Thus, a Colorado product containing only a small amount of THC mixed with an edible which may weigh up to a few ounces can result in a person being charged with a serious drug possession crime.
In Texas, possession of THC is treated much more severely than marijuana:
Popular Types of Edibles
Pot brownies are one of the oldest known edibles and were originally made with leaves pulverized into the batter. Today, a batch of pot brownies is likely to contain cannabis-infused butter. Although a batch of pot brownies, contain sugar, flour and other non-THC ingredients, The Texas Health and Safety Code sec. 481.183 includes the total weight of the finished product.
In 2014, police in Round Rock arrested a man with a pound and a half of brownies. Under Texas law, sharing those brownies with friends and family can quickly go from a drug possession charge to drug distribution. The sentence can escalate from 10 years to a minimum of 5 years up to 99 years or life in prison.
Wax is a newer type of edible, also known as THC oil, CBD oil, live resin, dabs, shatter and butter. Wax is popular with vaporizers. While vaping is similar to smoking, the penalty for possession of THC wax is considered a felony in Texas. Under the law, any amount of THC concentrate is considered a felony.
Cannabis Gummie Bears
Cannabis Gummie Bears
Most dispensaries in Colorado sell a single gummy bear containing 10 mg of THC. An entire package can contain 10–25 bears or 0.1–0.25 grams. At this amount, 4-5 packages of gummy bears amount to over a gram of THC concentrate.
Even if found with a single package of gummies, the product contains THC concentrate, leading to an automatic felony in Texas.
Cannabis Olive Oil
Cannabis Cooking Oil
Cannabis cooking oil is a popular product which can be used in desserts, pasta and many other dishes without affecting flavor. Unfortunately, in Texas, cannabis cooking oil is considered a THC concentrate under Penalty Group 2, resulting in a felony drug possession for any amount. A typical bottle of oil is 100 ml and contains 100 grams of THC. This would result in a second-degree felony charge.
An ounce of raw cannabis can make up to 60 marijuana cigarettes. It would require 240 “joints” to reach felony status. By comparison, it can take just a single cannabis-infused lollipop to meet the requirements for a felony in Texas.
Winning a Charge for Marijuana or THC Possession in Texas
The amount of marijuana or THC concentrate in possession may prevent a good outcome in your case, even for a skilled criminal defense lawyer. There is little precedent for edible marijuana cases.
Minimum sentencing can apply. Over 4 oz of marijuana and an automatic 180 days in jail is applied. Whether you have a 4.0, are a student athlete, or a respected high school teacher, the law requires a judge to apply the sentence equally.
In the State of Texas, a drug conviction further leads to a driver’s license suspension of up to six months.
At Chappell, Lanehart & Stangl, we will explore a few areas that can lead to a reduced sentence, diversionary program or reversal of charges:
- How were you stopped by police? Was it while driving?
- Was the drug a THC concentrate (edible) or marijuana?
- Where was the drug found during arrest: in your pocket, your vehicle or on a friend?
- Do you share your vehicle with others?
- Do you have a medical marijuana license in Texas?
- Do you have a clean criminal record?
- Are you a person of good character who is unlikely to commit a crime in the future?