The public attitude is shifting about marijuana-related crimes, and law enforcement in some areas of Texas seems to follow public sentiment. In Austin, minor marijuana-related offenses are now no longer cause for arrest.
In Texas, possession of small amounts of marijuana is either a Class A or Class B misdemeanor. However, Austin police will not only no longer arrest people under these charges, but the police won’t even issue tickets.
Significant possession of marijuana with intent to distribute won’t receive such a light-handed treatment. The police won’t look the other way with serious drug crimes and felonies. Minor possession, however, now receives what appears to be de facto decriminalization based on local policy. That policy comes from Austin’s government and not the state; Austin is one city, and its policies do not extend to other jurisdictions.
With that said, Austin’s police won’t ignore Class A or Class B marijuana-related misdemeanors in all instances. When there’s a connection to harm to others or the matter connects to a corresponding felony, a person could face possession charges.
Several motivating factors moved the City Council and the Mayor’s Office to cease the enforcement of minor marijuana charges. For one, many see these violations as “victimless crimes” and also as a “waste of taxpayer funds.” Changing social attitudes also factor into the decisions.
People under the influence of marijuana must realize they don’t receive blanket immunity for their actions. For instance, driving a vehicle under the influence of marijuana might bring forth serious charges.
Individuals facing misdemeanor or felony drug charges may benefit from a criminal defense attorney’s assistance. The attorney might raise questions about constructive possession or entrapment depending on the details of the case. An attorney may also attempt to work a plea bargain deal with no jail time, a reduced fine or reduced charges.