The Federal House of Representatives Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana
For the first time, a chamber of the United States Congress held a vote on whether to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession at the federal level, and the bill passed in the House of Representatives. However, this does not mean that marijuana possession is legal - or that any laws regarding marijuana possession have changed at all. It is a first step that reflects the ever-relaxing approach to marijuana possession in many parts of the nation.
The House Vote
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act) would remove marijuana from the federal controlled substances list, which would eliminate arrests and criminal charges for low-level marijuana offenses. It also would work to cancel existing marijuana convictions, clearing many criminal records. The proposal passed 222-164, largely along party lines.
What This Means
As of now, the House passage of the MORE Act means relatively little when it comes to practical changing of laws. This is because the Act is not expected to pass in the Senate, and it will likely stall out. Even if Congress managed to pass the MORE Act, this would only decriminalize marijuana under federal law, and states like Texas can still maintain their own laws that criminalize marijuana possession.
Decriminalizing marijuana is also not the same as legalizing marijuana possession and use. Many states have decriminalized marijuana possession, which means you are not charged with a crime, but you can still face infractions and fines. Repeat offenses can escalate to criminal charges.
Marijuana Possession is a Crime in Texas
While 15 states have legalized recreational marijuana possession and many more have decriminalized low-level offenses, Texas is not one of these states. Marijuana possession - even of small amounts - remains a criminal offense under the laws of Texas.
The following are possible charges and penalties you might face if you are accused of possessing marijuana:
- Two ounces or less = Class B misdemeanor charge, 180 days in jail, fines up to $2,000
- Two to four ounces = Class A misdemeanor charge, one year in jail, fines up to $4,000
- Four ounces to five pounds = State jail felony, 180 days to two years in prison, fines up to $10,000
The charges and penalties continue to escalate if you are accused of possessing more than five pounds.
Because many areas of the country are legalizing marijuana to various degrees, many people assume that marijuana possession is no longer a serious matter. However, you can be sure that authorities in Texas take marijuana crimes very seriously, and many people continue to be convicted of marijuana possession and have the conviction on their permanent criminal record. It is critical to defend against any type of drug crime with the help of an experienced Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer.
Contact a Fort Worth Marijuana Possession Defense Lawyer
Criminal defense attorney Kyle Whitaker can help you navigate the criminal process if you are facing drug-related charges. Contact us online or call 817-332-7703 to learn more about how our office can help you.