Decriminalizing Marijuana May Become Reality in Texas

May 14th, 2015 by Tad Nelson in Drug Crime, Marijuana Possession

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State representative Joe Moody (D-El Paso) authored HB 507, a bill that would essentially decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. The bill would specifically remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession if you possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Instead, the penalty for such a small possession would be a fine of up to $250.

“As a lawmaker, I have a responsibility to make sure we’re spending our resources wisely and treating our people fairly,” said Rep. Moody in a press release from the Marijuana Policy Project. “That’s what HB 507 is about.”

In Texas today, individuals possessing less than two ounces of marijuana are at risk of being arrested and having that stay with them via a criminal record. They also may face up to six months in jail and a fine that could be up to $2,000. These are fairly harsh penalties for possessing such small amounts of marijuana.

Along with Rep. Moody’s bill, there are other legislative proposals addressing marijuana legalization. For example, there is HB 325 and HB 414, according to the Dallas Observer. Both of these proposals would reduce possession of 0.35 ounces of marijuana to a Class C Misdemeanor (right now, possession of this amount is a stiffer Class B misdemeanor). These proposals would also reduce the penalty for possessing 2 ounces of marijuana. Possession of this amount would be a Class B misdemeanor. If a Texan possesses under four ounces of marijuana, the charge would be reduced to a Class A misdemeanor. There’s also HB 2165 which would effectively legalize marijuana with no penalties associated with possession.

In 2013, over 70,000 people were arrested in Texas for possessing marijuana, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. This means that the legislative proposals would likely result in a dramatic drop in the number of people charged with a minor drug offense.

Marijuana on the Airwaves

Television ads are running in major cities in Texas, including San Antonio, which support the legislative efforts to minimize the penalties associated with possessing small amounts of marijuana. In the television ad, a former narcotics officer residing in Texas Hill County says, “Law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time” than arrest people for possessing pot, according to ksat.com.

Whether the legislative proposals mentioned above gain any traction in the Texas legislature is a complete mystery. Considering the financial strain associated with jailing Texans for minor drug offenses reforms to criminal laws surrounding marijuana possession makes sense.

If You or a Loved One is Charged with Marijuana Possession, Take Action

Regardless of possible new marijuana laws being debated by local politicians, the fact remains that Texas still views marijuana possession as a criminal offense with some serious penalties for a conviction. Depending on your criminal history (if any) and the amount of weed, a marijuana possession conviction could result in a jail sentence of a few days to 99 years.

If you or a loved one is charged with marijuana possession, you need to contact an experienced Galveston, Texas criminal defense lawyer to mount a strong defense against these charges. Depending on the facts of your case, you may have a viable defense based on lack of probable cause, an improper and unconstitutional search, a failure to read your Miranda rights, and so forth. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today to speak to an experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney.

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