Legislation has been introduced, albeit late, for the 2017 Texas special session to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
HB 334, introduced by Representative James Moody, was not referred by the deadline BUT that does not mean it is totally dead. A hearing is still expected to be held by Moody on the subject matter.
HB 334 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.
“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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