How the House Vote on Marijuana Affects Texas
Although the House of Representatives has voted to decriminalize marijuana nationally, marijuana possession is still illegal in Texas. In a 228-164 vote, the House approved decriminalizing weed at a federal level, but did it have any effect on Texas’s marijuana laws?
Not so far. First of all, the legislation that would decriminalize marijuana is not expected to pass the Republican-led Senate. Second of all, the legislation does not change the fact that Texas has one of the harshest marijuana possession laws.
If you were charged with possession of marijuana in Denton or elsewhere in Texas, your freedom is at stake. For this reason, you should not hesitate to speak with a skilled drug crime defense lawyer in Texas to defend you against the criminal charge. Contact our Denton drug crime defense attorneys at the Law Office of Brent D. Bowen, PLLC, to discuss your case.
What is the MORE Act?
In December 2020, the House approved the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act to fight against “the racial disparities in conviction rates,” according to NPR.
If signed into law, the MORE Act would:
- Remove marijuana from the federal list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act; and
- Eliminate criminal penalties for persons who possess, manufacture, or distribute marijuana.
The MORE Act would not only decriminalize marijuana at a federal level but also establish a process for expunging non-violent federal marijuana convictions. Also, the Act would authorize a 5% sales tax on cannabis products to fund:
- Substance abuse treatment for people who became victims of the “war on drugs”;
- Job training;
- Legal aid for civil and criminal cases; and
- Loans for small businesses.
How Does the MORE Act Affect Texas?
While marijuana is still illegal at a federal level in the U.S., many states have legalized weed. According to Wikipedia, the medical use of cannabis is legalized in 35 states.
An increasing number of states are voting to decriminalize and legalize marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational purposes. While recreational use of marijuana is still prohibited in Texas, the state passed a bill in 2019 that legalized some forms of the cannabis plant for medicinal use.
However, it is still illegal to possess marijuana under Texas law. In fact, the state has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. Under Texas Stat. Code § 481.121, you can face up to 180 days in jail for possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana.
Possession of between 2 and 4 ounces of marijuana is charged as a misdemeanor in Texas. If you are caught with more than 4 ounces of marijuana, you are facing felony charges and could be sentenced starting at 6 months or up to 99 years in prison.
While the MORE Act, which would decriminalize marijuana across the country, could potentially impact Texas in the long run, possession of marijuana still remains a crime under current Texas law.
If you were arrested for possession of marijuana or any other drug crime, do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with our experienced drug crime defense lawyers at the Law Office of Brent D. Bowen, PLLC. Get a case review by calling at (940) 222-2488.