A bill that correctly decriminalizes the possession of little amounts of marijuana was authorized on Monday by the Texas Property of Representatives. Below the measure, Property Bill 63, a fine of up to $500 would be imposed for possession of a single ounce or significantly less of cannabis, rather than jail time. HB 63 was passed by the Property with a vote of 98-43 and have to be authorized by the physique with a second vote, a step normally viewed as a formality, ahead of heading to the state Senate.
The bill modifications possession of up to a single ounce of marijuana from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class C misdemeanor. An earlier version of the bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Joe Moody would have classified possessing little amounts of cannabis as a civil infraction, but Moody amended the measure on the Property floor to accomplish much more assistance.
“I’m not going to sacrifice the superior for the great. If this is what we can do, then this is what we have to do,” Moody mentioned. “We cannot preserve hauling 75,000 Texans to jail each year.”
Moody responded to criticism that the bill had been “watered down” by telling his colleagues in the Property that he feared that a bill that absolutely decriminalized pot would not succeed.
“When I initially proposed altering our criminal penalty for individual use of marijuana to a civil penalty, there was some assistance and even much more caution,” he mentioned.
Moody challenged legislators who planned to vote against the bill simply because they feared relaxing marijuana laws will ultimately lead to the legalization of recreational pot.
“We cannot legislate in worry of what some future legislators may well do,” mentioned Moody. “We’re right here to resolve the difficulties of these days. It is not about no matter whether marijuana is superior or negative it is about no matter whether what we’re carrying out on enforcement correct now is superior policy, and we all know it is not.”
No A lot more Arrests for Weed
These caught possessing significantly less than a single ounce of cannabis in Texas would no longer be topic to arrest below the revised version of HB 63. Offenders would rather be placed on deferred adjudication probation. These who effectively full their probation and do not commit much more than a single offense in a calendar year would have their records expunged. Possession of a single ounce or significantly less of cannabis would also no longer be grounds for the suspension of an offender’s drivers license below the measure.
Karen O’Keefe, the director of state policies for cannabis reform advocacy group the Marijuana Policy Project, applauded the approval of the bill in the Property.
“This is an extremely significant step forward for Texas, and it is lengthy overdue,” O’Keefe mentioned. “HB 63 would save thousands of Texans from life-altering and traumatic arrests and incarceration, when freeing up police sources to concentrate on crimes that have victims. It deserves swift passage in the Senate.”
Will the Bill Come to be Law?
While Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is opposed to broad cannabis legalization efforts, he indicated in a campaign debate when operating for reelection final year that he would assistance legislation to decrease the penalties for little amounts of marijuana.
“One issue I do not want to see is jails stockpiled with people today who have possession of a little quantity of marijuana,” Abbot mentioned. “I would be open to speaking to the legislature about lowering the penalty for possession of two ounces or significantly less from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class C misdemeanor.”
But ahead of a bill can get to Abbott’s desk, it have to be authorized by the Texas Senate, exactly where good results is nowhere close to specific. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who controls the perform of the Senate, is opposed to any measure that lessens the prohibitions on pot. Alejandro Garcia, a spokesman for the lieutenant governor, mentioned previously that Patrick is “strongly opposed to weakening any laws against marijuana [and] remains wary of the several medicinal use proposals that could grow to be a automobile for expanding access to this drug.”