Texas House to hear testimony on decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on March 14, 2017.

Marijuana reform in Texas is set to take center stage on Monday as the House Bill 81, which seeks to decriminalize the use and possession of small quantities of marijuana, has been scheduled for a hearing at the State Capitol.

House Bill 81, a bipartisan measure authored by Democrat Joe Moody and Republican Jason Isaac, would replace arrests and jail time with a civil fine for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The measure would make possession of one ounce of marijuana or less a non-criminal offense, punishable by a civil penalty not exceeding $250. And, up to 4 ounces of marijuana would result in a Class A misdemeanor, while any more than that would still result in a felony.

According to the current law, anyone in Texas who is in possession of two ounces of marijuana or less faces a punishment of up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

“People want to feel safe in their communities and when we’re prosecuting and arresting people for simple marijuana possession, we’re not giving justice to violent crimes where victims deserve justice”, Heather Fazio, the Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said. “The bill will re-calibrate penalties for low-level possession, making it a simple ticket, rather than jail time and a criminal record.”

Meanwhile, members of Sheriffs’ Association of Texas is opposed to House Bill 81 and any form of legalization or decriminalization of marijuana, even in small amounts since they believe strong that decriminalizing has always been a gateway drug for the people.

In 2015, two bills that would have decriminalized pot possession gained preliminary approval from lawmakers but were never scheduled for debate before the full Texas House.

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