New Laws on Marijuana and What's Up With Texas?Posted By Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC
We all know that Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC have de-criminalized personal use “recreational’ marijuana. On 8 November 2016, four more states approved the recreational use of marijuana, and four others approved the medicinal use. California, Maine, Nevada and Massachusetts joined other states and passed measures for recreational marijuana on Election Day 2016. Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas approved medical marijuana initiatives. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 28 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs. How about Texas? When will all this “recreational” smoke blow our way?
Texas State lawmakers have filed six new bills involving marijuana use, the majority of which address decreasing punishments for people caught with small amounts, also known as “personal use” weights of the drug. In the Texas House, House Bill 58 calls for the creation of specialty courts for certain first-time possession offenders. House Bill 81 replaces criminal penalties with civil fines for offenders caught with up to an ounce of marijuana, and House Bill 82 would change the classification of possession of 28 grams or less to a Class C misdemeanor, abandoning its current Class B status. In the Senate, Senate Joint Resolution 17 would allow voters statewide to decide on legalization of “recreational” use, Senate Joint Resolution 18 would allow voters statewide to decide on legalization for medical use, and Senate Bill 170 would change “personal use” possession from a criminal to a civil offense
In Harris County, the newly elected District Attorney, Kim Ogg, has articulated,her plan to decriminalize the drug. “I want to send offenders for non-violent offenses, especially marijuana, around jail. I don’t want them to pay bail. Most importantly, we don’t want people to have a permanent criminal record for a small offense that then stands in the way of future opportunity,” Ogg told reporters on the eve of her election. Last year, Senate Bill 339, also known as The “Compassionate Use Act”, legalized oils containing CBD, a non-euphoric component of marijuana known to treat epilepsy and other chronic medical conditions, and Texas lawmakers across the state appear ready to seek more lenient approaches in the manner that the state prosecutes marijuana crimes.
Meanwhile, all marijuana possession, with the exception of an individual receiving medical care in compliance with The Compassionate Use Act, is a criminal offense in the State of Texas. Depending on the weight and amount, you could be facing significant jail or prison. If you find yourself charged with a marijuana offense in the State of Texas, you need to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The Law Office of Patrick McLain has over 25 years of experience in the defense of such crimes. Call today for your consultation.