Austin, TX May Decriminalize Marijuana Soon

Many states across the U.S. have taken steps to decriminalize marijuana - or even to fully legalize personal possession of marijuana. This means that in many states, there is no possible imprisonment or criminal consequences for marijuana possession, but instead, only civil infractions and fines. As a state, Texas has not decriminalized marijuana possession, and you can still face Class B misdemeanor charges for possession less than two ounces, which can mean up to 180 days in jail and fines up to $2,000.

The City of Austin, on the other hand, is considering how it handles marijuana possession cases when someone is caught with smaller amounts of marijuana without the intent to deliver or distribute the drug. When it comes to possession alone, the City Council is considering a proposal that would “virtually end arrests and fines” regarding cannabis.

Hemp vs. Marijuana

In 2019, the federal government and many states - including Texas - legalized the production, sale, and possession of hemp, including CBD products. Legal CBD products have less than 0.3 percent THC, so they do not produce the “high” of marijuana products. However, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between cannabis products with and without the legal amount of THC without sophisticated testing equipment. This means there is the risk of arresting someone for marijuana possession when they actually possessed legal CBD.

The Travis County prosecutor’s office has already stated it will not pursue charges in marijuana possession cases without lab reports proving it is not legal hemp/CBD. Instead of spending the funds and ongoing man-hours on regular testing to distinguish between marijuana and CBD in numerous cases, the City Council of Austin is proposing to decriminalize marijuana possession and to “not worry about” marijuana arrests or charges as long as there is no intent of delivery or distribution. The proposal also prohibits the city from spending the funds that would be required to regularly test for THC concentration in suspected marijuana possession cases.

The Proposal Has Not Yet Passed

Four of the 11 City Council members are pushing the proposal, and they still need two more Councilmembers to vote in favor of the proposal for the required majority to pass the resolution. In the meantime, you cannot assume you will not get in trouble if you are caught by law enforcement officers with marijuana. Police agencies are still making arrests and, even if you are released without any charges issued, the arrest can still go on your record. It is best to abide by marijuana possession laws in Texas and to contact an experienced drug crime defense lawyer right away in the event of an arrest.

Contact an Austin Drug Possession Attorney for More Information

The criminal defense attorneys at Granger and Mueller PC handle many types of drug-related cases, including defending against marijuana possession charges. If you are arrested for any offense, do not delay in calling 512-474-9999 or contacting us online to learn how we can assist you.