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Local jurisdictions in Texas have discretion with low-level marijuana charges

The 2017 legislative session in Texas was primed for meaningful marijuana reform, with lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum coming together in support of decriminalization. But reform was not to be achieved this time around -- not on the state level -- as legislators ended up focusing on other things like "bathroom bills" and "sanctuary cities."

Texas state law is still extremely harsh on marijuana offenses, although local jurisdictions do have some discretion not to punish people as severely as the law allows.

Cities and counties have begun to take a softer approach to possession of small amounts, but you need an aggressive defense lawyer to get you that good deal.

In 2007, state lawmakers passed a bill that allows police to issue a court summons instead of arresting you for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. But not all police departments adopted the policy, and even those that did continued to arrest most people who were caught with a little marijuana.

Gradually -- very gradually -- district attorneys have started to implement a policy that combines two things instead of jail time for low-level marijuana offenses:

  1. Cite and release
  2. Pre-trial diversion

Depending on your individual case, you may be cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession, ordered to complete community service and a substance abuse class, and pay a fine. That is, if you were accused of possessing a small amount of cannabis.

Again, you need to talk to an experienced marijuana charge defense lawyer to explore your full range of options for having the charge reduced or dismissed. The stakes are still high.

Remember, discretion is left to police and prosecutors, so you could still find yourself arrested and facing heavy penalties for marijuana possession.

On the state level, possession of marijuana (2 ounces or less) is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. The penalties increase for possession of larger amounts, and if you are accused of selling marijuana, the possible penalties are even more serious. The law is particularly harsh on possession of THC concentrate, oils and waxes.

For more on these matters, please see our possession of marijuana overview.

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