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Advocates for marijuana reform push for new legislation in Texas

Texas has been very slow to decriminalize marijuana in any way, even for medicinal purposes. Meanwhile, states as diverse as Alaska, California, Colorado, Michigan and Maine have legalized the drug for recreational use to some degree.

Could Texas finally be moving in the same direction as the rest of the nation? If Marijuana advocates get their way, 2019 could be a year of change for Texas. Approximately six bills filed in advance of the state government's 86th session are directed at reforms surrounding the state's marijuana laws.

The total decriminalization of marijuana is probably still a far-off goal. However, advocates say that virtually any broadening of the current restrictions on marijuana would be a big improvement. Right now, the state only allows people with intractable epilepsy to use a low-THC type of cannabis without danger of prosecution.

One of the two bills being given the most support is Senate Bill 90, which would vastly expand the medical uses of marijuana in the state. The other, House Bill 63, would drastically reduce the penalties someone would face when caught with small amounts of marijuana. People would only receive a civil fine -- akin to a traffic ticket -- for possession of less than an ounce. In addition, Gov. Greg Abbott has publicly declared that he could support legislation that would drop the jail sentences and reduce the fines for those caught with less than two ounces of the drug. These changes, enacted into law, could be a significant step toward reducing the state's prison population.

Until the laws change, however, it's smart to understand the dangers you face if you're arrested for possession of marijuana in any form. The more of the drug you have in your possession, the more serious the charges the prosecutor will bring. If you've been charged, an experienced criminal defense attorney can work to protect your rights -- and your future.

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