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HB 81 moves forward to reduce marijuana penalties

The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee sent House Bill 81 to the House for a vote. HB 81 reduces the charges for having an ounce of marijuana or less, or marijuana as it is written in the bill. It would eliminate jail time and threat of arrest. Instead, the offense would merit a fine of $250. 

Sentencing guidelines for possession of marijuana are currently based on the weight of the marijuana. Possession of just 2 ounces or less is a Class B misdemeanor. A person could face a sentence up to 180 days in jail and have a fine up to $2,000. Having 2 to 4 ounces doubles the penalty and makes it a Class A misdemeanor. Anything over 4 ounces becomes a felony and has even stricter sentencing guidelines. 

Although Texas lawmakers are being asked to consider bills that would make medical marijuana legal, there are still many concerns. Most of the bills under consideration have stalled in committee, unable to garner support to send to the House or Senate for a vote.  

Cannabis oil charges are felonies 

Cannabidiol or cannabis oil is considered a controlled substance. In September 2016, it became legal for people with intractable epilepsy. For anyone else, possession of cannabis oil is considered a felony, much like having cocaine. Possession of 1 gram or less is a felony punishable by six months to three years in a state jail facility and a fine up to $10,000. 

A drug conviction not only carries criminal penalties, but it can also mean the loss of your professional license. It can make it harder to find any type of employment. Even a first offense can severely hamper your future. Anyone charged with a drug crime would benefit from speaking to an experienced lawyer who knows the law, the system, and the prosecutors and judges, to have the knowledge as to how to best handle the case. You need a strong defense to fight drug charges. 

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