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Marijuana can still cost your freedom in Texas

Marijuana is legal in a growing number of states. Texas isn't currently one of them. Although Texas does have a medical marijuana law, it is considered relatively unhelpful. The law only allows for the possession and use of low-THC strains of marijuana by those with intractable epilepsy. The low-THC strains have shown to be less effective at long-term suppression of seizures and the law does not protect patients or parents who grow marijuana.

Unless you have epilepsy, you can't possess marijuana in Texas, regardless of what other medical conditions you may have.

In fact, the dispensary system isn't yet functional in Texas, so there is no legal means to obtain marijuana, even for those protected by the law. Most people in Texas who use marijuana use it for less life-threatening conditions or for recreational purposes.

All of those people are subject to arrest and prosecution, regardless of medical reasons for possessing and consuming marijuana. Getting arrested with marijuana won't just be a slap on the wrist, either. Law enforcement and the courts still take marijuana charges very seriously, despite the massive shift in public opinion in recent years.

Marijuana penalties include fines and jail time

At first glance, marijuana laws in Texas appear liberal. After all, you have to possess four or more ounces of marijuana for it to become a felony charge. Possessing less than two ounces is a misdemeanor that carries only 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. Possession of between two and four ounces could result in a year in jail and a fine of $4,000.

However, many people in Texas use marijuana extracts for both medical and recreational purposes. Possession of any amount of a marijuana concentrate is a felony that carries between 180 days and two years in jail, as well as a fine of $10,000.

As if that wasn't bad enough, you will also likely face separate charges for any pipes, scales or other paraphernalia found during your arrest. The criminal charges will eliminate the possibility of receiving federal funding for college. A criminal record could also make it very hard to find a job or a new place to live.

It may be tempting to plead guilty just to avoid court, but that decision could end up changing the course of your life. Before you make any important decisions, you need to speak with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney.

An attorney can help you build a defense

Even if you can't use medical marijuana as a defense, there are other options. Was your initial stop by law enforcement due to racial profiling? Were your rights violated during your arrest? How was the evidence handled between your arrest and court date? All of these factors could help get your charges reduced or even thrown out. The best way to explore your options is to speak with a lawyer who has experience defending clients against marijuana charges.

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