Marijuana is being decriminalized in many places, and it may soon be in Texas. For example, in Harris County, those who are caught with less than two ounces of marijuana in their possession on a first offense will be summoned to court instead of arrested. They may then be given pre-trial diversion program access, which helps prevent them from getting a conviction.
Decriminalization doesn't mean no penalties. In fact, even in the pre-trial diversion program, there are fines, community service and drug education classes to take. These are a better alternative, some believe, to sending minor offenders to jail, and it helps keep jails open for more violent offenses.
Before you go out and think you can get away with possessing marijuana, there are a few things you should know. First, possessing marijuana is a federal offense. If you're on federal property when you're caught, you could face mandatory minimum sentencing or fines of $1,000 or more for a single offense. Texas law also states that possession of two ounces or less is a Class B misdemeanor. This offense can lead to 180 days in prison with a $2,000 fine.
Decriminalization may be the goal, but the laws are still harsh on those who possess marijuana. If you're caught with it in your possession, it's in your best interest to speak to a legal professional about the steps to take to defend yourself. You could face a number of penalties, so you need to know what to expect and if you'll be expected to go to trial, a diversion program or to complete other actions to have the charge resolved.
Source: The Paper, "What you should know – versus what you think you know – about the decriminalization of marijuana," Jan. 05, 2017