The Texas House is scheduled to vote on a bill April 25, 2019, that would make low-level marijuana possession punishable by a fine with no jail time.
The development comes one month after the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee approved the decriminalization legislation in a 5-2 vote.
Under the bill, possession of 1 ounce, or 28.35 grams, or less of marijuana would be punishable by a $250 fine for the first two offenses, and it would be considered a class C misdemeanor for subsequent offenses, which is a lower penalty than is the case under current law.
Currently, possession of 2 ounces or less is a class B misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. That's in addition to a permanent criminal record, which carries steep, long-term consequences.
“Regardless of political affiliation, Texans are in support of reducing penalties for low-level marijuana possession,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told Marijuana Moment. “We want to see our valuable public safety resources used in a better way and we don't want a simple marijuana charge to keep people from going to school or participating in the workforce.”
Despite the state's reputation as a conservative stronghold, cannabis reform is advancing in several forms through the Texas Legislature. That includes a bill to expand the state's medical marijuana program, which was unanimously approved by a House committee in mid-April 2019. It also includes legislation to legalize and regulate industrial hemp and its derivatives—something that will be debated in the House on April 23, 2019.
The Texas Republican Party endorsed all three modest reform measures in 2018, though it stopped short of backing broader adult-use legalization.
Advocates are optimistic that the decriminalization bill will make it all the way to the desk of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who has expressed openness to signing legislation to reduce penalties for simple possession.
The article has been republished from Marijuana Moment under a content syndication agreement. Read the original article here.
Featured image: Texas Flag at Veterans' Memorial Park, Port Arthur, Texas. Published by Answerbag at www.answerbag.com/texas-flag