Texas Failed to Eliminate Jail Time for Marijuana Possession
At the end of April 2021, the Texas House passed House Bill 441, which aimed to reduce the possible penalties for the personal possession of small amounts of marijuana in our state. Numerous states across the country have completely legalized or at least decriminalized recreational marijuana possession in recent years, though Texas has not passed measures to achieve either. HB 441 met another dead end in the Senate, so the current Texas marijuana possession penalties still apply.
Another Attempt to Decriminalize Marijuana
The bill, which was proposed by State Representative Erin Zwiener, sought to lower the criminal penalties for people convicted of possessing one ounce of marijuana or less for personal use. If HB 441 did become law, it would have reduced the charge in this situation to a Class C misdemeanor, which carries no possible jail sentence. The maximum fine for this level of charge is $500.
In addition to the elimination of jail time for possession of up to one ounce, this change in the law would have:
- Eliminated arrests by police officers for low-level marijuana possession
- Allowed those convicted of low-level marijuana possession to expunge the offense from their criminal records
The House passed HB 441 by a vote of 88-40, but it did not get a vote in the Senate or make it to Governor Abbott’s desk. This is after the bill seemed to have a stronger chance to get signed than other bills proposed in Texas regarding marijuana possession. We will keep watching future efforts to decriminalize marijuana possession in Texas.
Current Marijuana Possession Laws in Texas
Currently, Texas has some of the strictest marijuana laws in the United States. If you are arrested for suspected possession of up to two ounces, you might face:
- A Class B misdemeanor charge
- Up to 180 days in jail
- Fines up to $2,000
In addition, your driver’s license can be suspended, as well as a firearm license. This type of conviction on your record can also impact your ability to find a job or housing, keep a professional license, or qualify for certain public benefits. The effects of a conviction can last well beyond a finished probation or jail sentence.
While arrests for marijuana possession have decreased in the last couple of years in Texas, law enforcement officers still can - and do - arrest people if they find them with marijuana. Until the legislature changes the law, possession - even of very small amounts - continues to be a serious criminal matter.
Consult with a Collin County Drug Possession Attorney
The law firm of J. Michael Price, II defends against a wide range of drug-related charges in and around Collin County. We know the penalties for drug possession, including marijuana, can have lasting effects on your life, and we know how to defend against drug offenses. Contact us online or call 214-765-8000 to learn how a Collin County drug possession defense lawyer can help if you are arrested or already face criminal charges.