Texas Governor Favors Softer Penalties For Marijuana Use

At the January 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Texas Gov. Rick Perry made comments on drug laws that surprised many, given his staunch conservative political background. Speaking as a member of a panel addressing "the drugs dilemma," Gov. Perry advocated moving away from the harsh drug penalties that came about from the war on drugs in the 1980s for non-violent drug offenders. Texas has begun to move away from draconian punishments for non-violent drug offenders, but drug charges in the state are still serious matters.

REDUCING HARSH DRUG PENALTIES

Gov. Perry stated that, while he opposed legalization or decriminalization of marijuana in Texas, he is in support of individual states experimenting with drug policies to see what works best for their residents. He argued that Colorado's move to legalize marijuana was constitutional under the Tenth Amendment, and that the federal government should not interfere.

He stated that he favors diversionary programs and drug courts for non-violent drug offenders rather than lengthy prison sentences. Gov. Perry noted that drug courts have been successful in Texas in keeping non-violent drug offenders out of prison and from "destroying their lives" in Gov. Perry's words.

PENALTIES FOR MARIJUANA POSSESSION IN TEXAS

Even though Texas has softened the penalties for non-violent drug offenses, drug charges in the state are still significant matters. Possession of two ounces of marijuana or less is a Class B misdemeanor. Those convicted of such a charge can face up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $2,000.

If the court determines that a person is a non-violent offender, he or she may qualify to have his or her case transferred to a drug court. As part of drug court, people's drug use is assessed and then they are given access to treatment. People are also monitored to ensure that they are not using drugs. People receive educational or vocational assistance to help increase their chances of successfully rehabilitating themselves.

TALK TO AN ATTORNEY

While the trend in Texas is toward offering drug offenders treatment rather than prison sentences, Texas authorities still take drug charges very seriously. Gov. Perry was clear that he does not favor decriminalization of marijuana in Texas, so drug offense convictions can turn people's lives upside-down and have lasting consequences beyond jail time. If you are facing drug charges in Texas, speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney who can help ensure the best possible outcome for your case.