The debate over reforming marijuana laws is ongoing throughout the country, and a recent poll shows that Texans' views on the issue have changed in the last several years.
The Texas Lyceum, a non-profit organization, surveyed 1,000 adult Texans by telephone and asked them a range of questions, some of which pertain to current marijuana laws. Remarkably, 46 percent of those surveyed said they support legalizing marijuana -- a percentage that represents a 13-point increase since 2011.
In fact, the pollsters found that, of the respondents who said they oppose legalization, 57 percent indicated that they are in favor of reduced penalties for possessing small amounts of cannabis.
While public opinion may have shifted in Texas, the penalties for marijuana offenses here are still some of the toughest in the country.
Here is a breakdown of the current penalties handed down for marijuana possession in Texas:
- Up to 2 ounces -- a misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000
- Between 2 and 4 ounces -- a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine
- 4 ounces to 5 pounds -- a felony with a jail sentence between 180 days and 2 years and a maximum $10,000 fine
- 5 to 50 pounds -- a felony with a mandatory 2- to 10-year sentence and a maximum $10,000 fine
- 50 to 2,000 pounds -- a felony with a mandatory 2- to 20-year sentence and a maximum fine of $10,000
- More than 2,000 pounds -- a felony with a mandatory 5 to 99 years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000
Those possible outcomes should spur anyone accused of marijuana possession to seek the best criminal defense they can find.
The push for reducing penalties for non-violent drug crimes is gaining traction, but people currently facing charges still need to explore every available defense option.
As we discussed in one of our earlier posts, drug crime charges often result from police searches, which may or may not be warranted. Police officers are held to a high procedural standard, and if a police search violates a person's Constitutional rights, then any evidence seized in the search may be suppressed.
Showing that a police search was illegal is just one possible defense strategy. For more on defending against marijuana charges in Texas, please see Nix | Poet's drug crime overview. With offices in Sherman and McKinney, we fight to protect the rights and freedoms of people who have been accused of drug crimes.