States including Texas have created legislation to decriminalize marijuana. There are a few misconceptions about the decriminalization process and what it includes. For first time offenders, the new legislation can mean less jail time and criminal repercussions.
Forbes reported in April 2019 the new Texas legislation decriminalized the possession of an ounce or less of cannabis. Instead of jail time, offenders can expect to pay a $500 fine. The lack of arrest and incarceration means there is no criminal record as long as offenders follow the judge’s deferral terms. Paraphernalia also applies to the new legislation.
While the governor has expressed an openness to limited reforms to cannabis legalization, broad changes are not likely to pass during his term in office. Lawmakers have worked together to make less than one ounce of marijuana possession a civil instead of a criminal offense. First time offenders no longer have to worry about the life-long negative effects of being caught in possession of a small amount of cannabis.
Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy provides an overview of Texas HB 63 and SB 156. The senate bill limited the fine to $250 instead of the house’s $500 fine. By not criminalizing the offense, the bill no longer jeopardizes the housing, educational opportunities and employment prospects of offenders. While the bill focuses on decriminalizing small amounts of possession, it has no effect on DUI standard or felony sales.
First-time offenders can expect less harsh penalties as long as they follow the judge’s conditions. Repeat offenders can still face criminal Class C Misdemeanor charges.