Houston Criminal Defense Blog

Rice University & South Texas College of Law to Offer Class on Marijuana Policy

The battle over the legalization of marijuana is as strong and conflicting as ever in the United States. Last week on July 1 – the first day of the new fiscal year – Colorado officials from the state Department of Revenue announced a number of laws and regulations regarding the retail sale of marijuana. After Colorado became the first state in the nation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana last year, these new proposed policies are helping regulators and retailers as they gear up for sales set to begin on January 1, 2014.

Aside from Colorado’s new solidified efforts to support a sound, safe, and productive marijuana industry, states and local municipalities across the country are considering new pot policies. On the other side of the spectrum, however, many continue to oppose the legalization of marijuana. In Texas, opposition to marijuana still reins supreme, which makes a recent announcement from Rice University and South Texas College of Law even more of an attention-grabbing issue.

Houston Plays Host to Evolving Trends & Views

As part of a new inter-institutional collaboration between the two Houston schools, students will have the opportunity to take a unique class – a marijuana policy course. Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and South Texas College of Law (STCL) will be offering the course as a way to study evolving trends in our nation’s marijuana laws. The course, which will begin this fall for eligible second- and third-year STCL students, will focus on drug policy legislation. Students will also research and draft their own legislative initiatives for states that legalize the use of marijuana – perhaps hypothetically, or perhaps in a bid to anticipate trends and shifting views that many believe point to national marijuana legalization.

Professors and administrators state that the new course offers a unique approach to drug policy education and research. Many programs that offer similar courses tend to focus on problems within the current criminal justice and law enforcement system, as well as ways that these problems should be addressed and rectified. The STCL and Rice course, on the other hand, will focus on giving much-needed attention to the ways in which the legal system must adapt to the decriminalization and / or legalization of marijuana – a controversial subject that current trends reveal to be gaining considerable momentum.

Policy changes that effectuate regulation and legalization rather than harsh prohibition and criminal enforcement may very well lie ahead for many states and municipalities – regardless of how reluctant and boisterous the opposition may be. Policy and criminal law – in any sense – is designed to establish a code of conduct and set of laws that are respected by citizens and law enforcement. Just as any criminal law or statute is devised and implemented, regulatory provisions for the legal possession and retail sale of marijuana must be constructed after considerable discussion from both sides of the aisle. Collaboration and compromise play an important role in all policy changes. In Texas and Houston – which was recently dubbed the most diverse city in the United States by NPR – resolving different views is a becoming a big deal.

Professors, administrators, policymakers, and students believe the new course will be an exciting opportunity for communities, local governments, states, and the nation to study the importance of accepting challenges and facing difficult issues head on. According to Rice Drug Policy Program member William Martin, the course will hopefully set the tone for “cross[ing] the bridge to a more rational, humane, and fiscally responsible drug policy.”

Understanding Current Marijuana Laws & Drug Policies

Although sweeping changes and views on marijuana laws and the new proposed course offer hope to many pot proponents and level-headed policy makers, the fact still ultimately remains that marijuana is illegal under federal law, not to mention Texas law. As such, individuals who are in possession of marijuana still face significant criminal penalties. When more serious charges are involved – including the sale, delivery, distribution, or cultivation of marijuana – charges and penalties can be substantially elevated.

If you or your loved one has been charged with a marijuana drug crime or any type of drug offense, it is of the utmost importance that you work with an attorney who has the experience, the resources, and the ability to defend you from serious punishment. At Billy Skinner & Associates, Attorney Billy Skinner uses years of experience as a Houston criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor to protect the rights, the freedoms, and the futures of clients facing criminal allegations. If you stand accused, you can trust in Billy Skinner’s passion for the art of law and his determination to provide clients with the highest quality representation possible. Learn more about current marijuana and drug policies, your personal case and charges, and the ways in which Billy Skinner can help. Schedule a free case evaluation or contact Billy Skinner & Associates today.