Changing cannabis laws can lead to confusion — and to criminal charges

Many states have loosened their restrictions on cannabis in recent years, creating an ever changing picture of legalization in the United States. Some states have legalized recreational use of nearly all cannabis products, while others have legalized only medicinal uses of certain cannabis-derived products. And, of course, cannabis remains illegal under federal law. The result can lead to confusion for many people, and possibly to criminal charges.

Here in Texas, cannabis oil products have been legal as prescription medications for certain conditions since 2015, but only so long as the THC concentration in the oil is less than 0.5%. Last year, the state expanded the number of medical conditions that can qualify a person for cannabis oil products and also legalized the use of cannabidiol, a compound made from hemp, without a prescription so long as its THC concentration is less than 0.3%. The change has brought a lot of confusion to law enforcement agencies, many of which do not have the specialized equipment necessary to test the THC concentration in a cannabis oil product. As a result, some local agencies have had to drop drug charges related to the oils, while other agencies have continued to prosecute THC oil cases.

Meanwhile, the variety of laws in different states means many Texans can cross a state border into another state to pick up a cannabis product where it is legal, and then bring it home where it is not.

The situation leads to confusion among consumers and uneven enforcement from the authorities. As a result, the public does not have a clear sense of what people can and cannot do. Many people may find themselves facing criminal charges without realizing they have done something wrong. It’s important for these people to seek out help from skilled criminal defense lawyers.