Despite Decriminalization Measures, Marijuana Possession Still Can Lead to Serious Penalties
As the battle to decriminalize marijuana continues around the country, the fight will be put to a vote soon in San Antonio. A justice and public policy reform organization gathered more than 38,000 signatures from residents, enough to earn the group’s proposed charter a spot on the May 6 ballot.
The San Antonio Justice Charter aims to implement many law enforcement reforms in San Antonio, including the decriminalization of marijuana. If voters approve the charter, San Antonio would become Texas’s seventh city to take this step. Decriminalization measures have been passed in Austin, Denton, Elgin, Harker Heights, Killeen and San Marcos.
Language from the charter reads “San Antonio police officers shall not issue citations or make arrests for Class A or Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana offenses,” with limited exceptions. It also says police cannot “consider the odor of marijuana or hemp to constitute probable cause for any search or seizure.” Moreover, someone holding fewer than four ounces of a synthetic cannabinoid would be issued a citation, rather than arrested.
A voice in opposition to the easing the marijuana laws is the city attorney, who says authorities would likely refuse to uphold the ordinance if voters pass it, arguing that city authorities cannot limit the enforcement of state drug laws.
Those state drug laws carry serious penalties for anyone convicted of marijuana crimes, even misdemeanors. For example:
- Possession of two ounces or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor with penalties of up to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000.
- Possession of two to four ounces is a misdemeanor with a possible sentence of up to a year in jail and $4,000 in fines
- Distributing seven grams or less for no remuneration is a misdemeanor with penalties of up to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000
- Selling seven grams or less for remuneration is a misdemeanor with up to a year in jail and fines up to $4,000
Unless and until marijuana is legalized at the state level, anyone using the substance is at risk of arrest and prosecution. If you find yourself charged with a marijuana crime in Kerr County or elsewhere in Texas, make sure you contact an experienced drug crime defense lawyer as soon as possible. It takes a skilled lawyer to protect your rights against prosecutors who are looking to enforce the tough provisions of the Texas Controlled Substances Act.
At the Law Firm of Richard L. Ellison, P.C. in Kerrville, we keep track of the latest developments in marijuana decriminalization efforts and other aspects of Texas criminal law. If you need an attorney to defend you against drug charges, call my office today at 830-955-8168 or contact me online for a consultation.