Plano Decriminalizes (sort of) Marijuana

Happy Friday everybody. I wanted to talk to you this week about some changes that are happening in Plano specifically, but they are changes that I think will eventually come to some other north Dallas and north Texas cities and counties.

Earlier this month, Plano PD issued a press release that basically said that they are decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. So if somebody in Plano is found in possession of under two ounces of marijuana, in other words, marijuana for personal use, instead of arresting them and charging them with a class B misdemeanor, they are instead going to just issue them a citation and class C misdemeanor, similar to a speeding ticket for the offense of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Now in legal terms, this is a huge, huge deal because it makes it much easier for a defense attorney like myself to resolve the case in a manner that allows a client to expunge it off of their record and get their record completely and totally clean and clear. And obviously it takes care of the headache of being arrested, taken to jail, having to bond out that sort of thing.

Really what I wanted to do in this video is talk to you guys about where this comes from, the basis behind it at least according to Plano PD, and why I think this is likely to extend into some other north Texas counties.

This all started back in 2019 when there was a law passed in Texas that legalized the possession of hemp. Hemp is a derivative of the same source of that THC that marijuana comes from. It’s a derivative use. What that legalization meant is that there were certain substances that contained small tinctures or small concentrations of THC that were now legal. It used to be the case that if you were in possession of any substance that contained any amount of THC, that was criminalized, illegal, no if ands or buts.

So now that certain levels of THC became legal, what it forced these police departments to do is if they caught somebody in possession of a controlled substance of marijuana, they had to send the substance off to the lab to confirm what level of THC was contained in that substance. Those lab tests were very pricey because they have to be run through special programs and machines to determine the exact amount of THC present. And so that was costing these cities and counties a whole lot of money. I think that’s a big financial reason why they’ve led to this decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana.

The other reason is from more of a sociological perspective is there is this social push for the legalization of marijuana and cannabis. You see it all over the country in states like California, Colorado, even Oklahoma for medical purposes. And so there is that push. Now, I think Texas being as conservative as it is, long time coming that that’s actually going to be legalized. But it just means that certain police agencies are faced with this social pressure where we might as well focus our efforts elsewhere.

There’s also the sociological pressure that shows that enforcement of marijuana laws and specifically possession of marijuana has really affected certain minorities and certain classes of citizens far more than it affects others. So it’s disproportionately enforced and that has led to a whole lot of, again, decries for social change, an outcry for an examination of what the purposes of these laws are. I think it’s kind of a balancing of all of that that has led the Plano PD to make the decision that they did. Again, it’s why I think that certain other north Texas cities will soon follow suit. I think Dallas already does this. They’ve been doing this for about a year now. I think it’s pretty certain that Plano won’t be the last town or municipality to do this.

Again, if you’re in Plano, I would still caution you because if you are caught in possession of marijuana and it’s not specifically by Plano PD, let’s say you’re pulled over by the State Trooper because you’re on a highway or if you veered outside the city limits of Plano without knowing it, you can still find yourself arrested, jailed, having to bond out, and then having to hire me to handle a class B misdemeanor or a class A misdemeanor, which I’m happy to do, but if you can avoid it, obviously I’d like for you to do that too.

So still a word of caution. This is not a chance for you just to run wild with marijuana in the streets of Plano. It’s still something that has to be treated with much caution, but it is something that is worth noting, worth watching. We’ll keep an eye out as these laws change around the state and around the DFW metroplex area.

As always, if you have any questions about this or anything else, please reach out, throw me a comment, throw me an email, give me a call. I’m happy to discuss this with you. I look forward to seeing you guys next week. Have a great weekend and enjoy it.

Author Bio

James P. Whalen

James P. Whalen is the managing attorney and founder of Whalen Law Office, a Texas criminal defense firm offering personalized legal representation for various federal criminal charges. With a commitment to providing comfort and guidance during challenging times, Mr. Whalen serves as both an attorney and counselor to his clients, helping them navigate their cases while striving to restore normalcy to their lives.

In an inherently unbalanced criminal justice system, Mr. Whalen takes on cases with unwavering dedication. With decades of legal experience, he offers representation across various criminal charges, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, drug charges, and more. Mr. Whalen’s numerous accolades, including Super Lawyer recognition and board certification in Criminal Appellate Law and Criminal Law, reflect his unwavering commitment to ethical and high-quality legal representation.

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