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Marijuana and the Government


In honor of the recent month of April, I thought I would discuss the continuous and ever growing relationship between marijuana and the government.

Starting as early as 1913, states began passing anti-marijuana laws. Ironically, California was the first state to pioneer this path. And, now, while seventeen states possess medical marijuana statutes, Texas holds firm in its strict ban against the Schedule 1 narcotic.

So what is the history behind the current penalties against the most popular drug of choice to our nation's teenagers? In 1956, the Narcotic Control Act was responsible for imposing a minimum, mandatory sentence on a marijuana first offense. A charge of possession of marijuana would place an individual in prison for 2 to 10 years. The government was committed to putting an end to the use of marijuana. But, despite the propaganda, marijuana use increased in popularity among the youth across the nation. Marijuana was a part of pop culture.

From the 1960's to the 1970's the amount of Americans reportedly using marijuana had increased by the millions. The harsh penalties implemented over marijuana use did not seem to be effective. In response, the Controlled Substances Act abolished the mandatory minimums, yet continued to discourage and prosecute marijuana use. Marijuana was still considered a "schedule 1" drug because of the potential for abuse, alongside heroin and MDMA.

Fast forwarding to the present, an individual in possession of any amount of marijuana within the Texas borders may serve jail time. Even with the frequent rap song and casual television reference, current penalties in this state range from B misdemeanors to felonies punishable up to 99 years.

In what seems to be a growing popularity and acceptance, the use of marijuana is still a crime and very much pursued by the authorities. The penalties an individual may be subjected to are far more inconvenient than the task of abiding by law. The notorious relationship between marijuana and the government has lasted many years and the fight continues.

Below is an outline of the possession of marijuana penalties in Texas:

Possession of:

2 oz or less = class B misdemeanor punishable by 6 months in jail and/or $2000

2 to 4 oz = class A misdemeanor punishable by 1 year in jail and/or $4000

More than 4 oz to 5 lbs = state jail felony punishable by 6 months to 2 years and/or $10,000

5 to 50 lbs = felony of the third degree punishable by 2-10 years and/or $10,000

50 to 2,000 lbs = felony of the second degree punishable by 2-20 years and/or $10,000

More than 2,000 lbs = felony of the first degree punishable by 5-99 years and/or $50,000