Texas was not involved in the green wave that swept the United States last election, when several states legalized marijuana. But given that marijuana legalization has reached an all-time high (pardon the pun) in popularity, it is not too much of a stretch to assume that lawmakers are looking into legalization – or, at the very least, decriminalization – in our state.
A total of five different bills have been filed in the state capitol of Austin regarding marijuana possession laws. Two of them seek to turn possession of an ounce or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a civil penalty. This is the equivalent of a traffic ticket. The other bills seek to reduce marijuana possession offenses from class B misdemeanors to class C misdemeanors, a fairly minor change.
While several bills have been pushed in the past to reduce marijuana offense penalties, the inauguration of District Attorney Kim Ogg in Houston could help push for decriminalization and help keep drug offenders out of prison. She believes that putting nonviolent drug offenders in prison with murderers is unfair and does not help rehabilitate these offenders. Additionally, she argues that it is a massive waste of taxpayer dollars. In Houston alone, she believes reforming the way nonviolent drug offenders are treated could redirect $10 million toward putting people in prison that have committed much worse crimes. If Houston sees merit in reforming drug laws, the rest of the state could follow suit.
Penalties for Drug Possession in Texas
At the current time, possession of two ounces or less of marijuana will result in a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a potential fine of up to $2,000. Having any more than four ounces is a felony, with a maximum prison sentence of 99 years for the most egregious possession offenses.