Although attitudes are changing, marijuana laws remain harsh in Texas

During the past few years, several states have begun to change the way in which their laws deal with marijuana. Indeed, many legislatures throughout the country have started to take a far less strict stance on the drug than in years past.

For instance, some states have approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes while others have completely decriminalized the possession of small amounts of the drug - electing to treat the transgression like a traffic offense instead. Moreover, two states have even legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Texas is not among these states. In fact, those caught with marijuana continue to face prosecution for severe drug crimes in Texas. However, if public opinion polls are any indication, the citizens of Texas may be opening up to the idea that some form of marijuana use may eventually be legalized in the Lone Star State.

According to a poll conducted earlier this year by the Texas Tribune and the University of Texas, an astonishing 77 percent of Texans questioned believe marijuana use should be legalized in some form, with nearly half of those polled claiming the drug should be legal for any purpose.

Interestingly, several bills have been introduced by Texas lawmakers over the last few years regarding medical marijuana as well as decriminalization, but as of yet have failed to come to fruition.

Current marijuana law in Texas

Until the Texas legislature follows the lead of other states and lessens the penalties associated with marijuana-related crimes, current law will continue to punish offenders quite severely. In fact, under Texas law:

  • Possession of two ounces or less of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor
  • Possession of four ounces or less, but more than two ounces, if a Class A misdemeanor
  • Possession of five pounds or less, but more than four ounces, is a state jail felony
  • Possession of 50 pounds or less, but more than five pounds, is a third degree felony

Given these offenses, an individual found with less than two ounces of marijuana can face up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. If the amount of marijuana involved increases to just over four ounces, a conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to two years, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days.

Legal assistance often advisable

Regardless of the alleged drug offense, it is important to remember that those accused have certain rights. Accordingly, if you have been charged with a drug-related offense in Texas, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to learn what your rights and options may be.