A bill that would have completely removed penalties associated with possessing small amounts of marijuana in Texas has been amended. Initially, the bill was intended to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis. However, this piece of legislation was rewritten just before it was set to be heard by the state House of Representatives.
What the new version of House Bill 63 does instead is lessen the penalties for low-volume possession without fully removing them. While it may be possible for someone charged with possession in Texas to avoid having a criminal record because of reduced penalties that would be in place if the bill becomes law, there may still be legal consequences.
The reason for amending the bill is to reduce expected opposition by ensuring that marijuana possession is still considered a crime but with reduced penalties. There has also been concern that the state's lieutenant governor, who is opposed to revising the state's possession laws, may use his influence with the senate to prevent passage of the bill. However, the state's governor has expressed support for reducing criminal penalties for marijuana possession. Even so, he has not taken a clear stance on the decriminalization issue. The amended bill would reduce possession to a Class C misdemeanor with a fine that could get up to $500, but there would be no jail time. Supporters of decriminalization aren't thrilled with the watered-down bill, but some believe it's a step in the right direction.
A criminal defense lawyer may attempt to have drug charges reduced or dismissed, especially if the drug involved is a minimal amount of marijuana. One way this goal might be achieved is to question how the drug was discovered in the first place. In some instances, a criminal defense attorney may suggest that a charged individual did not actually possess the substance in question.