marijuana

Marijuana Decriminalization in Texas

By Peek & Toland on July 10, 2019

Ten bills related to marijuana decriminalization were before the Texas legislature during the most recent legislative session, one of which was successful and many others that were not. The only piece of legislation that survived this session was a slight expansion of the eligibility criteria for medical marijuana usage, in the form of cannabis oil. CBD oil from dispensaries under the medical use program has a maximum THC level of 0.5, which is not significantly different from CBD oil sold in retail stores, which is to contain a maximum THC level of 0.3.

Previously, the only condition eligible for legal medical marijuana usage was intractable epilepsy. The new legislation recognizes that other medical conditions may benefit from medical marijuana, including autism, epilepsy and seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis (MS), spasticity, terminal cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and some incurable neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and Huntington’s Disease.

Marijuana Decriminalization in Texas

Various issues remain problematic with the new legislation. For instance, Texas law requires a prescription for medical marijuana and CBD oil from a dispensary. However, federal law prohibits doctors from prescribing Schedule I controlled substances, which includes marijuana. While Texas law provides a workaround, doctors are still somewhat at risk if they prescribe medical marijuana.

A lack of regulation still exists as to CBD oil. Although many oils are labeled as being free of THC, there is the chance that they still contain trace amounts of THC, as there are no standard regulations that apply to the production and distribution of CBD oil. Furthermore, law enforcement officers in different parts of the state still consider CBD oil differently. Some counties consider CBD oil illegal unless produced by state-sanctioned dispensaries for medical purposes. This stance has led to raids and seizures of CBD oil in retail stores in some Texas counties.

The Peek & Toland criminal defense lawyers are here to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in your situation. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your criminal proceedings.

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Marijuana Arrests Still Dominate in Some Counties and States

By Peek & Toland on July 2, 2019

According to a recent article relying on FBI data, marijuana possession led to six percent of all arrests nationwide in 2017. This arrest rate, however, is not consistent from one state to the next, or even from one county to the next within the same state. In some counties, the arrest rate for marijuana possession is in the 20 percent range, which tops out at 55 percent in one Georgia county.

Various reasons support these high rates of arrest. First, the federal government provides generous funding for drug task forces. Forfeiture laws also often allow law enforcement agencies to seize and keep money and other assets from those accused of drug crimes. Furthermore, marijuana may be easier for law enforcement authorities to spot, simply because it is bulky, meaning that individuals cannot easily conceal it, and has a strong and distinctive odor, especially in comparison to other controlled substances.

Marijuana Arrests Still Dominate in Some Counties and States

With the legalization of marijuana occurring rapidly in many states, however, the emphasis that some law enforcement agencies place on prosecuting individuals who use marijuana may be unwarranted and a waste of precious resources. Moreover, law enforcement efforts to stop drug activity most commonly result in the prosecution of drug users and small distributors who deal solely to support their habit, as opposed to the major distributors or those who run high-level drug dealing enterprises.

Nationwide, more conservative states, including Texas, who have not legalized any marijuana usage, have had higher arrest rates for marijuana possession than the national average. Two counties in Texas had the third and fourth highest arrest rates for marijuana possession in the U.S. In contrast, states that have legalized marijuana to some degree have much lower than average arrest rates for marijuana possession. When facing any criminal law issue, you are likely to need the legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation regularly for individuals who are dealing with criminal law problems. It is our priority to represent your interests and protect your rights.  Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.

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Marijuana Oil and Texas Law

By Peek & Toland on April 17, 2019

Vaping pens and e-cigarettes quickly have become big business in the tobacco industry. Nonetheless, some individuals have found a new use for vaping devices as a mechanism for smoking pot that tends to be far more discreet than smoking joints or using bongs. By using marijuana in oil, wax, or liquid form and placing it in a vial, users simply can drop it into a vaping pen or e-cigarette instead.

The problem is, possessing even a small amount of marijuana in oil, wax, or liquid form could result in felony charges, as opposed to a small amount of loose or dried marijuana, which is typically a misdemeanor offense. Due to the differences in weight and characterization under Texas law, possession of marijuana or THC oil is likely to cause far more severe criminal charges than those for possession of marijuana in its traditional form.

Marijuana Oil and Texas Law

Texas law remains strictly anti-marijuana, especially as compared with the numerous states that have legalized small amounts of marijuana for medical or even recreational use. However, Texas law classifies marijuana differently from THC wax, also known as butane hash oil, hash, or dabs. As far as Texas law is concerned, THC wax is a controlled substance whose possession carries the potential for far more severe penalties than those for possession of marijuana.

Under current Texas law, possession of two ounces or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense that can result in up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine. Possession of one to four grams of THC, hash oil, or a concentrate, however, is a felony offense that can result in a two to ten-year prison sentence and a maximum $10,000 fine. Despite the fact that marijuana and hash oil contain the same active ingredient, or THC, Texas legislators do not consider it to be the same substance. An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and help you make the decisions that will be most beneficial to you, based on your circumstances. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

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Some Lawmakers Seek to Decriminalize Marijuana

By Peek & Toland on April 10, 2019

A recent article in the Texas Tribune discussed the moves by some lawmakers during the current legislative session to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. There is growing support for various bills that would reduce or even eliminate criminal penalties for those found with small amounts of marijuana. Some hardliners, however, continue to push back against these bills, fearing that decriminalization of marijuana will lead to the legalization of other drugs and an increase in crime rates.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, about 379,000 Texans have been arrested for possessing less than two ounces of marijuana during the past five years. This is because the possession of any amount of marijuana in the state of Texas remains a criminal offense. Meanwhile, ten other states and the District of Columbia have legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana for purely personal usage. In 13 other states, possession of small amounts of marijuana now is a civil rather than a criminal infraction.

Some Lawmakers Seek to Decriminalize Marijuana

In some urban areas, such as Dallas County, Texas district attorneys have enacted policies under which they will not prosecute first-time, low-level marijuana offenses. Harris County prosecutors have established a diversion program for first-time offenders caught in possession of less than four ounces of marijuana; if individuals take a four-hour class that costs $130 within 90 days, then they will not face criminal charges at all. To date, officials report that more than 7,000 people have taken advantage of the diversion program.

If you are facing marijuana-related or other drug charges, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that your rights a protected at all stages of your criminal proceedings. At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you any accusations of wrongdoing that you may be facing. We are here to investigate the facts surrounding your case, consider your options, and help you develop the strategy that is best designed to achieve a successful outcome in your case. Do not waste time attempting to handle legal matters on your own; contact our office as soon as you are charged with a criminal offense so that we can provide you with the help that we need.

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Marijuana DWI in Texas

By Peek & Toland on March 20, 2019

Although many states in recent years have legalized medical marijuana and even recreational marijuana in some cases, Texas has not followed this trend. With the narrow exception of low-THC cannabidiol oil prescribed for intractable epilepsy, marijuana remains illegal under Texas law in any amount and any circumstances. As a result, driving while under the influence of marijuana, or marijuana DWI, is illegal in the state of Texas.

Marijuana can affect judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time. All these characteristics arguably are necessary for safe driving. However, studies have produced mixed results as to whether marijuana truly impairs persons to the extent that they cannot safely drive.

Marijuana DWI in Texas

Under Tex. Pen. Code § 49.04, it is illegal to drive while intoxicated. Texas law defines individuals as intoxicated when they do not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties, due to alcohol, controlled substances, dangerous drugs, or a combination of these substances. Therefore, to the extent that marijuana has caused impairment to your mental or physical faculties and you choose to drive, you could be charged with marijuana DWI. 

The potential penalties for marijuana DWI are the same as those for DWI due to alcohol. For a first offense, the charge is a Class B misdemeanor, which can carry a potential term of incarceration of up to 180 days, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. Drivers convicted of DWI also will face a mandatory driver’s license, increased motor vehicle insurance rates, and annual surcharges assessed by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) of $1,000 per year for three years. A DWI sentence also may include mandatory community service, drug rehabilitation or counseling, and vehicle impoundment.

Furthermore, if you possess marijuana at the time of your arrest, you may also be charged with possession of marijuana. While this does not occur in all jurisdictions in Texas, as some no longer prosecute possession of small amounts of marijuana, it is a possibility in other jurisdictions. Otherwise, the prosecutor can use the presence of marijuana as evidence in support of the marijuana DWI charge.

If you or a family member is facing any type of criminal charges, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through often-complex criminal proceedings. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our criminal defense lawyers and learn how we can assist you.

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Is It Illegal to Grow Marijuana in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on February 25, 2019

There are no specific Texas laws that prohibit the cultivation or growing of marijuana. However, other laws prohibiting marijuana still make growing marijuana illegal in the state. Growing marijuana is a crime of marijuana possession in Texas.

Is It Illegal to Grow Marijuana in Texas?

Charges and penalties for marijuana vary widely according to the amount of marijuana that you are accused of possessing. Tex. Health and Safety Code § 481.121 sets forth the penalties for possession of marijuana based on weight:

• Two ounces or less: Class B misdemeanor
• Two to four ounces: Class A misdemeanor
• Four ounces to five pounds: State jail felony
• Five to 50 pounds: Felony of the third degree
• 50 to 2,000 pounds: Felony of the second degree
• More than 2,000 pounds: Felony carrying a potential sentence of five to 99 years in prison or a life sentence, in addition to a fine of up to $50,000

Due to this wide range of penalties, sentences of incarceration can vary widely. A Class B misdemeanor carries the potential for a jail sentence of no more than 180 days, whereas a second degree felony conviction could result in up to 20 years in prison. It is essentially only very small amounts of marijuana possessed for personal usage that result in misdemeanor charges under Texas law.

If you are facing criminal charges, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that all of your rights a protected at all stages of your criminal proceedings. At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you any accusations of wrongdoing that you may be facing. We are here to investigate the facts surrounding your case, consider your options, and help you develop the strategy that is best designed to achieve a successful outcome in your case. Do not waste time attempting to handle legal matters on your own; contact our office as soon as you are charged with a criminal offense so that we can provide you with the help that we need.

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Marijuana Legalization Faces an Uphill Battle in Texas

By Peek & Toland on February 6, 2017

Legislation seeking marijuana legalization has been submitted in Texas over the last few years. It has made little headway.

However, with a change in the national climate that was demonstrated in the November election when more states voted to legalize marijuana, the tide may eventually turn in Texas.

In 2016 bills intended to legalize cannabis in Texas failed. Another push is likely in 2017.

That’s not to say Texas hasn’t taken small steps toward change and decriminalization. For example, two years ago, Harris County’s district attorney brought in a “First Chance” policy in Houston. It allowed people who were picked up with small amounts of marijuana on them to be ticketed rather than arrested, assuming they were non-violent offenders.

Bills have been filed to legalize marijuana

The pressure is on to legalize marijuana in Texas

Recently, Texas Senator Jose Menendez filed a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the Lone Star State.  People who suffer from chronic medical conditions such as cancer and Parkinson’s would benefit from the legislation.

The bill is not specific about quantities of pot that would be legal. A network of private dispensaries would distribute the drug to needy patients.

Texas Faces Pressure for Marijuana Legalization

National pressures may have a bearing on Texas. On election day California, Nevada Maine, and Massachusetts joined Colorado and Washington in voting to legalize marijuana.

More than 20 states in the United States have legalized medical marijuana. However, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the illegality of medical cannabis in a 2016 ruling.

Marijuana is classified as an illegal “controlled substance” under federal law. In a unanimous 8-0 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that patients with serious diseases who use the drug for pain release are doing so illegally, reported ABC News.

Many people who suffer from serious diseases say medical marijuana helps them cope with their conditions.  The medical community remains divided over the issue. An ABC report noted a government study concluded cannabis does ease pain and nausea but also delivers “harmful substances.”

If you are caught with marijuana on you in Texas, you can still face a serious sentence. However, the climate may be changing, depending on the success of bills in 2017.

Contact our Austin drug defense lawyer today for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.

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Federal Authorities Prosecute More People for Drug Possession

By Peek & Toland on December 23, 2016

Drug possession may not be punished as harshly as drug trafficking but the number of people charged with these offenses at a federal level has risen exponentially over the last few years.

The trend prompted a report that was published by the United States Sentencing Commission in September.

The research noted the number of federal offenders whose most serious offense was simple drug possession rose nearly 400 percent during the years from 2008 to 2013.

Drug possession arrests rise

Drug possession offenses are rising

The trend is of interest. When offenses fall under the federal system, the penalties are typically higher. The study by the United States Sentencing Commission nixed the notion that federal enforcement officers had increased their focus on drug possession offenses.

Marijuana Accounted for Rise in Federal Drug Possession Offenses

The study found the rise was almost entirely accounted for by the use of marijuana.

The increase in possession cases was fuelled by arrests at the US/Mexico border, predominantly in Arizona.

In the case of people arrested away from the border zone for the possession of marijuana, the median quantity of the drug recovered was 0.2 ounces.

In contrast, the people arrested for possession of marijuana offenders at the border possessed a median quantity of 776.0 ounces — an amount that appeared to be way in excess of a personal use quantity.

Proving Drug Possession

In order to prove drug possession, a prosecutor must prove your possession of certain unlawful drug violates federal and state laws. Prosecutors have to be able to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the person who was arrested was aware the drug was a controlled substance. He or she must have knowingly had possession of the drug or control of it.

Crimes of simple possession carry a lower sentence than possession with intent to distribute. However, in the cases highlighted at the border there’s clearly a question about whether this marijuana was for personal use.

At Peek & Toland , our Austin criminal drug defense lawyers help people who are charged with drug possession. There are five groups of drugs in Texas. The seriousness of a sentence will depend on what narcotic you are accused of possessing.

The five categories are Group 1, Group 1A, Group 2, Group 3 and Group 4. The penalties for possession of these narcotics range from one year incarceration and a fine of $4,000 to life imprisonment and $250,000 fine.

If you have been charged with any drug offense in or around Austin it’s important to hire a criminal defense lawyer from the outset before the prosecution builds on its case against you. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

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