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Weed, Texas (a little clarity about marijuana possession in Texas)

I haven’t actually checked, but since Texas has a town or city named after almost everything conceivable (Bacon, Turkey, and Coke just to name a few), there could be a Weed, Texas. But this isn’t a post about some tiny town with one stop sign in the middle of a farm to market road. It’s about pot, weed, grass, ganja, bud, swag, or any of the other myriad of names marijuana goes by. There is one thing we can all agree to call it if you are within the vast borders of Texas, and that is “illegal.” Sorry to the aficionados, those with medical issues, and future and former Coloradans, but there is no legal way to possess marijuana in Texas. De-criminalized? Nope, not that either. While there are some local jurisdictions in Texas that allow ticketing for small amounts of the green stuff, it is still a jail-able offense. Under 2oz, meaning anything from a “usable quantity” on up, is punishable as at minimum a Class B misdemeanor. Meaning the range of punishment is up to 180 days in the county jail and a $2,000.00 fine.

So where does that leave you? Are you really going to jail for a joint? Well, in most jurisdictions in Texas, the answer is yes, at least for the night you get caught anyway. But what about that 180 days? Well, probably not for that long, but that depends on a lot of things.

For now, we will skip past legal defenses to possession, and just go with being guilty. (If you want to know what the legal defenses are, you need to talk to a lawyer about the specifics of your case). So, you did it, you know it, and there is no good way to get around it. What happens now?

This can depend on your attitude at your arrest, your age, your responsibility level, and your willingness to cooperate with the things that the prosecutor’s office wants you to do to prove yourself worthy of a second shot.

Punishments can range from conditional dismissals that require drug screenings, probation where a conviction is deferred or not, all the way up to serving some jail time.  Probation for a class B can be up to 2 years and can include drug classes, reporting, drug screening, community service, and payment of fines and fees.

Some folks, believe it or not, ask for the jail time just to get it over with and move on. They don’t want to do community service, don’t have the money for fines and probation fees, don’t want to be monitored for months or years, they don’t want to quit smoking, or have any number of reasons that it just won’t work for them. Some important things to remember though is that a conviction (which if you choose jail, you will have) can affect you in ways you didn’t imagine for the rest of your life. Potential driver’s license suspensions, being denied federal student loan assistance and the effects on potential employment are just a few.

You may not like that marijuana laws in Texas are this way, you may wish things were different here, you are not alone (check out this poll by the Texas Tribune). If you want things to be different, you have two options, you can vote to change it, or move to Colorado (or Washington State.), but who wants that? Stay to try and change it and maybe one day we will have a Weed, Texas. Until then, know your rights.

by: Ryan Lee

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