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Will 2017 be the year for marijuana reform in Texas?

Many states throughout the country have loosened their treatment of marijuana possession offenses. Texas is not one of these states, so far, anyway.

Marijuana reform activists in Texas say that they will be campaigning hard to get lawmakers to change the state's policies during the 2017 legislative session, which begins in January. Specifically, they will be working to expand legal medical marijuana use in the state and to lower criminal penalties for simple possession.

Currently in Texas, even possession of two ounces or less of marijuana can result in a penalty of up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Possession of hash oil is treated even more seriously. In fact, as a past post discussed, it's possible to face life in prison for getting busted with a pan of brownies containing the marijuana extraction.

The Texas political director with the Marijuana Policy Project said the group will be backing bills that "take away the threat of arrest, jail time, and most importantly that criminal record that comes along with a simple possession charge."

For example, last year, El Paso State Rep. Joe Moody proposed a bill that reduced penalties for marijuana possession of less than 1 ounce to no jail time and a $100 fine.

Currently, 25 states allow medical or recreational marijuana use; however, the Drug Enforcement Administration recently decided to keep cannabis on its list of dangerous drugs, right alongside heroin, cocaine and other deadly substances. That means people need to defer to the laws of their own states when it comes to marijuana regulation.

Only time will tell if activists will be successful in reforming Texas' marijuana laws this legislative session.

Until it happens, a person who is charged with a marijuana-related crime in Texas must take the allegations very seriously. Call a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer right away to avoid the harshest consequences, which could involve jail time, huge fines and a permanent criminal record.

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