State legislatures continue to evolve in their approach towards marijuana laws. Numerous states decriminalized and legalized the recreational and medicinal use of cannabis. The Texas House recently passed a bill intended to decrease criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. If the bill becomes law, then marijuana might not come with intolerable penalties for users.
Changes to longstanding marijuana laws
The Lone Star state takes a dim view on aggravated crimes, but sentiments about drug charges appear to change. The new bill focuses on possession in amounts of 1 ounce or less. Such amounts would fall below the amounts commonplace in “possession with intent to distribute” cases. Current law levies Class B misdemeanor charges against persons possessing “up to two ounces” of marijuana. Along with the charge comes a possible 180 days in jail.
The bill specifies that possession up to 1 ounce becomes a Class C misdemeanor and presents no jail time. Also, the police would not be able to arrest someone who possesses such a small amount.
Other legal issues of concern
Misdemeanor convictions lead to criminal records. The bill would allow persons previously convicted of possession of less than 1 ounce to explore expungement options.
Not surprisingly, changing attitudes about marijuana drive the legislative movements in Texas and elsewhere. Whether the bill becomes law or not remains to be seen. The governor has yet to make any statements in support or opposition to the bill.
A point about federal charges bears mentioning. Regardless of any changes to Texas laws, marijuana remains a scheduled drug on the federal level. So, any changes to Texas law do not affect federal drug charges.