Laws regarding marijuana have been changing rapidly in many states over the past few years. Not only have several states reduced penalties for small offenses and legalized medical use, but some have completely permitted recreational use. However, if you are a proponent of marijuana legalization in Texas, you are likely disappointed by the strict laws and reluctance to change.
But the tides might be shifting. House Bill 81, legislation that seeks to eliminate the threat of arrests and incarceration for possessing one ounce or less of the drug, was introduced on March 13th, 2017. How does this contrast with current state laws? Here is an overview of how tough Texas is on marijuana possession and what might change.
Possession charges come with serious penalties
Even the smallest amounts of marijuana can result in significant jail time and costly fines. Possessing under two ounces of the drug is a class B misdemeanor. The maximum punishment for this crime is a fine as much as $2,000 and up to 180 days of jail time. If you get charged with possessing two to four ounces, you might face a fine of $4,000 and one year of incarceration. Anything over four ounces is a felony, with fines and incarceration getting more severe the more you have in your possession.
What House Bill 81 would change
This recently introduced bipartisan legislation makes incremental changes to these strict laws. While it does not legalize anything, it significantly reduces the threats that many Texans face for having tiny amounts of the drug. The bill seeks to categorize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana as a civil penalty with a $250 fine, rather than incarceration and steeper fines.
The future of marijuana laws in Texas is uncertain, but there is a glimmer of hope for those who want to see a shift in policy and enforcement. For now, though, there are still serious charges for possession.
If you get arrested for having marijuana, consult a defense lawyer for representation. Call The Gonzalez Law Group, PLLC, at 832-530-4070.