Update: The Texas Statehouse ended their session without holding a vote on HB 81. You can read Texas NORML’s Executive Directors statement on it HERE.
Update: HB 81 is scheduled for a vote by the full House on May 11.
Update: HB 81 cleared committee on a 4-2 bipartisan vote April 3 and now goes to the Calendars Committee in hopes of being scheduled for a floor vote. The Chair of the Calendars Committee is Rep. Todd Hunter, who voted for HB 81 when it was before the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee this session. We hope that this will have a positive bearing on the rest of the Calendars Committee. You can view additional members of the Calendars Committee HERE.
Legislation has been introduced for the 2017 legislative session to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
House Bill 81, filed by Representative Joe Moody and cosponsored by Representative Jason Isaac, seeks to amend state law so that possessing up to one ounce of marijuana is a civil violation, punishable by a fine – no arrest, no jail, and no criminal record. Under current state law, first-time marijuana possession offenses are classified as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
According to the ACLU, Texas arrests over 70,000 individuals annually for simple marijuana possession offenses — the second highest total in the nation, at the cost of over 250 million dollars per year.
“This bill is about good government and efficient use of resources,” said Rep. Joe Moody. “Arrests and criminal prosecutions of low-level marijuana cases distract law enforcement and prosecutors, leaving fewer resources for violent crime.”
Senator Jose Rodriguez has also introduced a Senate companion bill, SB 170, which is currently making its way through committee.
“State penal statutes regarding the possession of small amounts of marijuana are antiquated and costly. The state and local governments expend millions of dollars prosecuting and incarcerating these non-violent drug offenders,” said Sen. Jose Rodriguez. “In addition, those convicted often suffer collateral, disproportionate consequences, such as an inability to find employment or access certain benefits, like student financial aid or housing assistance.”
According to a recent UT/TT poll, only 17% of Texans support marijuana prohibition.
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