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Texas Republican platform endorses decriminalization of marijuana

The Republican party of Texas has given its support to the decriminalization of marijuana by voting to include it in its official platform. In addition to supporting the decriminalization of marijuana, the party also voted to expand support for medical cannabis and support industrial hemp. The vote came at the Texas Republican convention on June 16.

The party's new position on marijuana reform includes changing possession of less than 1 ounce from a criminal offense to a civil offense with no jail time. Additionally, the party supports expanding an existing state law that gives patients access to medical cannabis and removing cannabis from the federal Class 1 drug classification. The party platform also endorses industrial hemp as a valuable commodity.

Currently, possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana in Texas can land someone in jail for up to six months and cost them up to $2,000 as a fine. Medical cannabis was legalized in the state in 2015, but time ran out last year before legislation to expand that law and decriminalize recreational marijuana could be voted on.

The Texas Democratic party passed support for decriminalizing marijuana as part of its platform in 2016. Its 2018 convention is set for later in June.

Drug crimes carry stiff penalties, making defending against the charges an important responsibility for an attorney. Law enforcement officers often find drugs during searches of homes or vehicles, but a person who is told by a police officer that he or she wants to perform a search has a right to refuse to allow it. The police then have to either obtain a search warrant or claim that probable cause justifies a search. Probable cause can be a point of dispute; in other words, a defense might be mounted against drug charges that claims that a search was illegal because police had no probable cause.

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