In case you haven’t heard, marijuana is now legal in New Mexico. On April 1, 2022, New Mexico joined the growing number of states that decriminalize marijuana possession. This comes after the Cannabis Regulation Act, which was signed into law by New Mexico’s governor in June of 2021.

While cannabis legalization is on the ups, marijuana is still illegal in Texas. Even though New Mexico might be just a quick drive away, getting caught with marijuana in Texas can yield severe consequences. So, if you’re off to New Mexico for some high times, make sure you’re smart upon your return to Texas and follow these rules.

Rule #1: Don’t Drive Dirty

Just because you purchased marijuana legally in New Mexico does not mean that the marijuana will be legal in Texas. That means cannabis purchased in New Mexico must stay there. Do not return Texas with marijuana in your vehicle.

Why?

If you are stopped by police in Texas, even the slightest odor of marijuana emitting from your vehicle gives probable cause for a search. Just because you’ve hidden your weed in a sealed compartment in the glove box, does not mean that the officer won’t be able to smell it. Moreover, if an officer sees drug paraphernalia, like a pipe, your vehicle is subject to a search.

Rule #2: Don’t Consent to a Search

Regardless as to whether you have marijuana on you, never consent to a search.

Take a look at this scenario: You’re driving on 180 east towards Lubbock when a police officer stops you for speeding. Upon request, you hand the officer your license and registration. The officer then asks, “Where are you coming from?” To which you reply, “New Mexico.” A light bulb goes off in his head and the officer then asks to search your vehicle. You consent, and when a bag of THC gummies are found in the center console, you are arrested for possession.

Prior to asking for consent, the officer did not have probable cause to search your vehicle. Note that coming from New Mexico (or any other cannabis friendly state), is not probable cause. The officer must have specific, articulable facts that a crime has taken place. However, the officer doesn’t need any of that if you consent to a search.

Rule #3: Don’t Drive High

You decide to have some last minute fun before heading back to Texas. While you may think your short high will not affect your driving, police tend to disagree. If an officer stops you and suspects you are intoxicated from marijuana, you’ll likely wind up charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI).  

If an officer suspects that you are under the influence of marijuana, he will ask you to submit to a series of tests. These tests include the standardized field sobriety tests, where you’ll be asked to follow a stimulus with your eyes, walk in a straight line, and stand on one foot. If the officer is a drug recognition expert (DRE), he may have you perform additional tests such as the finger to nose test. It is advisable that you do not submit to these tests—even if you feel fine! Your demeanor can be construed so many ways, and most often it is not in your favor.

For more on this, see Driving While High: The Truth About THC DWIs.

Rule #4: Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent

If you’ve been caught with marijuana, that doesn’t mean you need to give the police some long story. The best thing you can do in this situation is to remain silent. Do not claim the marijuana as belonging to you or anyone else. In order to charge you with marijuana possession, prosecutors must show an “affirmative link” between you and the drugs. By telling police that the weed is yours, you’re making the prosecutor’s job easy.

Rule #5: Consult an Attorney

Marijuana may not seem like a big deal, but the penalties can be. Here’s what happens if you get caught with weed in Texas:

In addition to jail time and fines, a conviction for marijuana possession will yield a driver’s license suspension for at least 30 days. You could face other consequences as well, especially when it comes to employment, federal funding, and housing.

Before you plead guilty to an offense involving marijuana, consult an attorney to discuss your options. It may be that overcoming your marijuana possession charge is more likely than you think. If you have questions about your marijuana charge, call my office today.

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