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Texas bill would decriminalize small marijuana amounts

Texas State Representative Joe Moody has introduced a bill to decriminalize marijuana. The bill's proposal is that people who have under an ounce of marijuana would face civil instead of criminal penalties.

According to Moody, the bill would mean that taxpayer resources would not be used on these relatively minor offenses, and people would not be barred from the workforce with a criminal conviction following such an offense. Since the Texas Republican Party has shifted its stance on legalizing marijuana and now say it would support decriminalizing possession of small amounts, the bill may have bipartisan support. Moody says he believes this means the bill has a good chance of passing.

The Texas Compassionate Use Program allows some patients with epilepsy to use a low-THC cannabis, but otherwise, marijuana is illegal for medical or recreational reasons in the state. The DEA says it will still enforce federal laws in the state even if the drug is decriminalized.

People who are facing drug-related charges might want to consult an attorney about criminal defense. Even possessing a small amount of drugs can lead to serious consequences. These may not just be legal but could have implications for a person's career, financial aid for college or access to housing. An attorney might look into whether the person's rights were violated in the course of the investigation, such as in an illegal search and seizure. An attorney might also call into question the accuracy of testing the allegedly illegal substance. A person could claim that the drugs belonged to someone else or might dispute law enforcement's account. Another option might be a plea bargain. This could offer a person a lighter penalty in exchange for a guilty plea.

Source: KVIA, "El Paso state rep. files bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana", Denise Olivas, Jan. 8, 2019

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