Could Legalization of Marijuana Be in Texas's Future?

Opinions on pot are changing in the Lone Star State.

It is penalties like these that cannabis users look to circumvent in Texas, and one of the easier ways to do so is by finding a legal alternative. One such substance is synthetic marijuana, which is sold under names like "K2" or "Spice." Those products are created by dusting shredded plant material with a chemical compound meant to mimic the effects of cannabis, and they are available for purchase at head shops or gas stations.

While the two drugs do resemble one another in appearance, the intoxication effects of the chemical compounds in synthetic marijuana could not be further from a cannabis high. Users risk everything from rapid heart rates and elevated blood pressure to life-threatening hallucinations and seizures. A number of the synthetic cannabinoid compounds used to make these products have been listed as Schedule 1 drugs, but with the relative ease of tweaking the compounds to create additional "legal" versions, combating synthetic marijuana is a harrowing task for law enforcement.

The possible dangers posed by the substances users are ingesting also create a harrowing crapshoot. Tinkering with the chemical compounds may allow producers to skirt the definition of "illegal," but doing so also skirts the issue of safety. This became fairly evident during a span of five days in early May, when 120 people overdosed on a synthetic form of marijuana in Texas.

Tim's hydroponic system and the cannabis plants he grows in it are equally impressive.
Tim's hydroponic system and the cannabis plants he grows in it are equally impressive.
Hundreds of participants in Austin joined the annual Worldwide Marijuana March to the Capitol for cannabis reform.
Mike Bagby
Hundreds of participants in Austin joined the annual Worldwide Marijuana March to the Capitol for cannabis reform.

Austin and Dallas were the hardest hit, and emergency rooms were full of patients suffering from the ill effects of a synthetic cannabinoid compound. Their symptoms ranged from abnormal behavior to severe agitation, and many had to be sedated and restrained. Law enforcement officials think that the bad batches of synthetic marijuana may have originated with the same dealer in Austin, but little can be done to curb the sale or distribution of these drugs.

These overdoses are symptoms of a deeper K2 problem in Texas. Synthetic marijuana is dangerous, but it continues to be seen as a safe alternative to illegal drugs like cannabis. It's cheap, easy to distribute and legal to possess. On paper, everything about the drug makes it seem like a viable alternative to pot.

Yet the addictive qualities and the unpredictable high of synthetic marijuana have made combating it difficult. It's not just the typical drug user who's attracted to it, either. At times, it's the very people charged with your safety who are using it.

According to a 2014 University of Washington study, "Addictive Behavior," synthetics are two times more likely to be used by members of the army, since they're legal. In addition to being cheap and legal, synthetic marijuana is nearly undetectable by traditional drug tests. That makes it a viable option for members of groups, like law enforcement and the military, who are drug-tested regularly and are looking to avoid detectible THC residue.

While federal law has been circumvented by way of state policies on cannabis in Colorado and Washington, and even in states like California, where medi-pot (but not recreational pot) is legal, Texas is one of the last states that take that Schedule 1 ranking to heart. Arrests and incarcerations are prevalent.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, 73,611 adult arrests were made in 2013 for marijuana possession. Cannabis accounts for 59 percent of all drug arrests in Texas, and it costs us $50,000 a year to incarcerate each person in such cases.

Those are some stiff penalties for a plant, and at Tim's age and in his condition, he often wonders if growing the plant is worth the risk.

Texas makes no allowance for the use of medical marijuana, and possession is treated the same in all cases. A person in possession of two ounces or less in Texas faces 180 days in jail or a $2,000 fine, and it doesn't matter if he or she has a verifiable illness that will benefit from cannabis. When the amount increases to four ounces, it comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days in jail, no matter the circumstances.

If the push for legalization in Texas continues, there may be a day when pot penalties are no longer a threat.

Until then, Tim will sit in his little clapboard house in south Texas, tending to his indoor grow lab and hoping that he stays under the radar. Change is a-comin', he knows that much; it's just a matter of how and when.

Lucky for him, the cannabinoids in those illegal pot plants have made crossing his fingers a possibility.

angelica.leicht@houstonpress.com

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68 comments
amatone98
amatone98

Legal or NOT, people smoke it. Moneymakers are the dealers. Fine by me. Have never had a dry spell. Always good quality. Fair pricing. Live about a 2-3 hour drive to Co. state line, 5-6 to major Co. city. NO worries here. Sure it would be nice to not have to buy in alleyways, darkened rooms, or looking over my shoulder, BUT, once I get my hands on it IT's MINE.....LOL.

I will sign any petition sent to politicians to legalize in Texas, I will go vote IF and WHEN on the ballot. As will the millions of chronic pain patients who've just had the carpet pulled out from under them by the DEA, HHS, FDA by rescheduling hydrocodone containing products. Doctors have QUIT prescribing HCPs even to patients that have been on them for years. NO MORE! Pain management doctors shocked the hell out of me when they said no more as well. Pharmacies around this area refuse to fill legitimate HCP prescriptions, so even if you get a legal script there's no guarantee it'll be filled. Sucks I know.

In the meantime I'm sparking it up anyway. Happy Tokin' Yawl.

Schitt.C.Rumpney
Schitt.C.Rumpney topcommenter

SURE!.   Git DinglePerry out and keep any of his low hanging berries ouy of office then Texas will move into the new future and prosper.

bud987566
bud987566

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Thatsfunny
Thatsfunny

mad scientist-cum-expert gardener...  lol

packers
packers

Smoking cigs is worse health wise, but  it's legal, being drunk is just as bad as being stone and alcohol is legal, so why legalizing weed is a bad thing in comparison. I also feel that the crime rate will reduce if this would happen in Texas.

looneyfrtwrth
looneyfrtwrth

I find that this whole matter of the legalization of marijuana funny as hell, and I am also confused by some of the comments from people who think legal weed would destroy this state.  I can tell you from personal experience that anyone I have ever met who is against the use of marijuana is someone who has never tried it, does not associate with anyone who does use marijuana, and only has comments based on all the political and false commercials of what marijuana does to a person.  I have been in a room full of people who are stoned or high if you will, on marijuana and I have been in a room full of drunk people and I much prefer to party with stone people than drunks. Alcohol destroys more lives in so many ways each year than marijuana ever has, we know this by the fact that there are no documented cases in where marijuana was the cause.  I have never seen someone stone start a fight, I have never seen someone stone puke all over the place, I have never seen a stone person have an accident driving, ( this may be because most of the time someone who is stone does not want to go drive a car).  Marijuana has a relaxing effect not only on the brain but also on the body, and once you reach that good comfortable feeling, driving is just not one of the things you want to do.  But if you do find that you have to drive.  I have also been witness to being in the car with many stone people and nearly every time we were always in the slow lane going maybe 45 to 47 miles an hour.  So you fools who have come on here and thought legalization of marijuana is wrong for Texas, then I have only one thing to say to you, you are idiots.  You might take the time to read and consider history, long before we invaded this land we now call America, Indians were here and smoked marijuana in their peace pipes every day.  I ask you, how many really old Indians have you seen walking with a cane, or slumped over unable to stand because of back problems.  How many of them have you seen with any of all the other diseases whites, black, and all other nationalities suffer from.  I have an Indian friend who lives on a reservation in Oklahoma and they allow the smoking and growing of marijuana,  Some of the old people on this reservation are 95 to 104 and act and move around as if they were only sixty or sixty five.  and you idiots also have to consider all the research that has been done over the past twenty years that support the fact that marijuana is a pain reliever, and even a cure for some ailments. So if you don't want Texas to legalize marijuana, then when they do you can move to a state where it is still illegal.  But be warned, eventually every state will legalize marijuana because of its ability to stimulate the economy, think about that. 

rowantom88
rowantom88

The worst thing that Texas could ever do is legalize that evil weed! Isn't driving in our state dangerous enough without having to worry if the person, driving in front of you is stoned and with his reactions slowed down to begin with he stops suddenly and causes an accident?  Do we want Texas to become a hippie wasteland like Colorado?

TexasForever
TexasForever

Take a listen to Afroman's "Because I got High" then tell me if legalization of pot is a good thing?

jesusworks2003
jesusworks2003

Seeking man's wisdom about marijuana, and reject the knowledge of God. "God's truth about marijuana" jesusworksministry.org

midnightfapper69
midnightfapper69

texans aren't fat and lazy enough already, legalizing mj is a good idea.

cdjtiger
cdjtiger

The entire state is controlled by corrupt  lawyers and corrupt politicians  ...  Lawyers make millions defending  average  citizens POM  charges each year, millions and millions.  Most cases  never  see the inside of a court room.  They are plea bargained out with cash payments to the courts and to the lawyers. It is a HUGE racket of asset forfeiture  the crooked courts and crooked judges and crooked DA’s and crooked  lawyers  CA$H cow.  All these brand new privately owned jails  and  detention  centers  depend on this corrupt crooked  despicable situation of marijuana  probation to keep the jails full and the  CA$H  cow  of asset forfeiture  flowing.  

The only way we will see legalized  hemp and marijuana in Texas is the day when all these corrupt politicians, lawyers, judges and the powerful people who secretly run this state  somehow find a way  to CASH  in a vastly greater way  and amount than they are doing  by  keep hemp and marijuana illegal.  They will never ever  do it for the good of the people, or because it is the RIGHT thing to do.

TruDat
TruDat

Isn't Texas the state that is threatening to send a teen to prison for life for making pot brownies? 


stevennolin
stevennolin

@DonkeyHotay  Sounds like you do not understand prohibition. You either pay the black market tax or the government gets their but.

SeedyWard
SeedyWard

You have no citizen initiative process in Texas. Therefore, all of this is up to politicians. Good luck expecting them to behave like real human beings.

beautypeakwebdesign
beautypeakwebdesign

"Could" Legalization of Marijuana Be in Texas's Future? Clearly a rhetorical question, to which the only reasonable answer - unless you are on Big Pharma produced legal, potentially fatal, prescription meds - is Yes! In spite of 70 years of a war on a plant, and $1 TRILLION dollars in taxpayer spending, people have figured out that a plant that has a lower lethal dose than water should not be illegal. With Texas surrounded by states that will legalize in a few years if they haven't already, and Mexico as a source of low grade but cheap weed, they will have no choice. 


My question is, since TX seems to be so big on individual rights and doing what you want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else, what is the problem? People are going to smoke the ganja, just like they drank during Prohibition, so why waste police time and taxpayer money fighting the inevitable? On top of that, the Feds are agin it, so shouldn't they be for it just in principle?

richgrise
richgrise

In Kalifornia, the Bill of Rights are numbered, 1,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. In Texass, the Bil of Rights are numbered 2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2,2.


CoolTex
CoolTex

The real gateway drug is alcohol with tobacco second...they used all the negative evidence found with these two drugs and applied their attributes to pot to further their evil cause...reefer madness...

CoolTex
CoolTex

It is time to ship these robber politicians and their minions back to the robber  baron police states whence they came from. No more property taxes, no more $500 traffic tickets, no more murder by cops, no more theft of land from families, and no more drug war bs! We had no real problems before these monkeys took over and their anti pot and anti hippie Illuminati has to go now! Vote out incumbents, religious nuts, and people on agendas that do not put Texas first! Thieves are stealing the state blind while these buffoons chase kids down for smoking a joint behind the barn! Send them all back to Washington and leave us alone. We do not need them anymore!

cpringle
cpringle

trust this hippie idea will be crushed by Texans - thin edge of the wedge here lads - need to start gaoling users - we have the technology - we need more money and prisons to teach these scofflaws the true value of freedom and liberty.  There is no other solution - look at the places where pot is legal - Holland - Kanada and North Korea - countries of crime and filth with no hope.  Let us increase enforcement to rid the state of this deadly scourge! Amerika MUST remain free of these fatal fantasies - we already have some problems with the bevy of legal drugs including the more benign ones like alcohol and tobacco - do we need more?  I think the consensus is no and can be seen from the majority of informed commenters .

dissturbbed
dissturbbed

Great article btw..don't let that fool get on your nerves. Texas is too conservative to legalize this harmless plant. Proof of this is how one Texas resident is facing 5 years to life for hash brownies, only in Texas would this happen. I have been a TDCJ officer for over ten years and you never hear about the people who are sentenced to 10 or more years for cannabis. Ill never forget this one 19 year old inmate who is serving a 30 year sentence for marijuana. I read their travel cards every time they move between units or are released and what almost made me quit is when a two time child molester in the same cell block as that 19 year old was released time served on a 12 year stint. I cant even describe how i felt that day...it is so messed up, only if the public knew.

eminencefrontman
eminencefrontman

I'll know I live in a truly free country when I can legally ride from one coast to the other with a pistol in one pocket and a bag of marijuana in the other.

Pat149
Pat149

As a person living with chronic pain from spinal arthritis and systemic lupus, an autoimmune disorder, I would love the option to try cannabinoids as an alternative or adjunct to opioid medications. Decriminalization is not good enough. Why should a person be fined for possession of a legitimately prescribed medicine for a documented condition? Why should we not welcome a relatively safe alternative to opiates which produce tolerance and require escalating doses? For that matter, there is no legitimate reason to consider possession or use of marijuana illegal while permitting alcohol and tobacco. 

normlguy420
normlguy420

Alcohol is AS BAD as marijuana? Or a thousand times worse. When have you heard of a stoned driving death that killed an entire family? Or a subculture of weedo's passed out in the alley? Where are the dangerous consequences of marijuana? Answer: NOWHERE.

frankmockery
frankmockery

@rowantom88  Q: Do you know what the similarity is between eating pussy & driving in the fog ?  A: You can't see the asshole (or rowantom88) in front of you !  Better a happy hippie wasteland than a bigoted redneck wasteland like Texas !! And quit picking your nose when I'm talking to you !!! LMFAO !!!! 

Bill
Bill

@rowantom88  Perhaps Texas should pass a law criminalizing driving under the influence of drugs.  Oh, wait.....they already did.  Legalizing pot would be akin to the legal ownership of a crow bar.  Yes, bad people can use a crowbar to pry your door open and rob you, but owning and using a crowbar for uses other than committing a crime is legal.  Your argument is the same one used by people afraid of guns.....they want government to take everyone's guns, so they can feel safer. 

darrynlyon
darrynlyon

@rowantom88 I seriously hope you're being sarcastic, because otherwise I feel really, really sorry for you and I'm very surprised you've survived long enough to figure out how to use a computer. 

kendralegs
kendralegs

@rowantom88 Alcohol is legal. I guarantee alcohol is worse on a person that marijuana. Alcohol intoxication is wayyyyy worse that being high. Especially when you are talking about someone being stoned behind the wheel. I would rather be by someone driving stoned than drunk any day!

smpwast3d
smpwast3d

@TexasForever And you think drinking is better? I'd rather see a bunch of stoners than a bunch of drunks any day!

Bill
Bill

@midnightfapper69  There's a simple answer to your issue.....stop paying people NOT to work.  Stop rewarding deadbeats for having kids they know up front they cannot pay for.  Then all those fat and lazy Texans will have to get a job and pay their own way in life. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stevennolin ... only an IDIOT would beg the Government to TAX and REGULATE anything they actually cared about.


Only a bong-sucking imbecile would deliberately conflate "harmless marijuana" with deadly alcohol that harms, maims and kills 100s of THOUSANDS of people every year.



CoolTex
CoolTex

@dissturbbed Someone in the legislature has got it in for pot users and has made astounding changes to pot laws with little or no review. This idea that pot is a different drug than the crystals washed off of pot makes it into a different substance is  just cruel. And the fact that cities are making big bank running (clogging) courts with pot users and running up the tab on them to $10,000 for possession of a small amount of pot is evil! There are even two laws on the books! They can choose to write then a traffic ticket or use the court system. They choose the court system. I say get rid of the two choices and bring it to one choice. And Texas needs to have a petition rule also. Not being allowed to submit a petition for a vote is Nazi politics!

CoolTex
CoolTex

@Pat149  The reason is haters and money...their attitude is screw everyone but us...

normlguy420
normlguy420

You sir, or madame are a complete moron. How old are you, 90? Have you the experience to even speak on this particular topic? If you have never smoked marijuana, then why the hell does your opinion matter to anyone other than your cronies at the rest home. Uneducated opinions should be keptin private.

normlguy420
normlguy420

No kidding man. That's what I was thinking. This poor fool must have had a serious mind screwing in his upbringing.

frankmockery
frankmockery

@normlguy420  Of course all of these prohibitionists are complete morons,how do you think Perry,Cruz & Gohmert were elected,by geniuses ? These are the same gullible self-righteous simpletons that dismiss global warming because they believe in a "god" & think they're going to a "heaven". Anyone that stupid or naïve should have their voting privileges permanently revoked & be banned from ever seeking elective office. Just another example of the wealthy,the conservatives & the divinely delusional deity devotees duping the ignorant,the poorly educated & the uninformed who constitute their electorate. It's actually quite hard to find anybody that has had first-hand experience using marijuana who is now opposed to it's complete legalization & those opposed on the other hand have never tried it even once. It's like gay sex,they've never had it,don't plan on ever having it,don't want anybody else to have it & get livid at just the thought of others having it ! Well they can assume the position of doggie submission because marijuana will be legal in Texas sooner than they think & they're "knot" going to enjoy it !

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stevennolin  utter nonsense.


What is the blackmarket / government tax on Oregano ? ... or Tomatoes ?


If the morons would actually LEGALIZE it -- LIKE TOMATOES -- there would be no black market at all.


The current quagmire in Colorado, Washington and elsewhere with their Massive Government Regulation and Taxation schemes is that BOTH markets now pressure those "licensed" producers -- the blackmarket which can ALWAYS produce a better and cheaper crop, and the greedy insatiable bloodsuckers at the Dept. of Revenue who have saddled marijuana with upwards of 30% in taxes.

frankmockery
frankmockery

@normlguy420  This is why these bastards cling to their guns,it's the only thing that keeps their better educated & more intelligent neighbors from wringing their scrawny necks !

 
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