Texas Considers Lessening Penalties for Possession, Allowing Medical Defense

May 02, 2013

affirmative defense, caregiver, Committee on Calendars, Committee on Public Health, decriminalization, HB 184, HB 594, Texas

Last week, the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee approved Rep. Harold Dutton’s bill to keep marijuana users from being sent to jail for first-time simple possession of marijuana. Unfortunately, the bill – HB 184 – was amended first to apply only to people under the age of 21. The bill is now with the House Committee on Calendars. We want to be sure the committee places it on the calendar for a vote on the House floor.

While not perfect, this bill is a step in the right direction. Under current Texas law, possession of two ounces or less of marijuana is punishable by up to six months in jail and $2000 in fines. If you are a Texas resident, you can voice your support and encourage members of the Committee on Calendars to put the bill on the calendar for a vote. 

In other news, the Committee on Public Health heard testimony from patients and medical professionals who support HB 594. This important bill would let patients who are arrested for marijuana possession raise a defense in court if their physicians recommend medical marijuana. It would also protect physicians who make such recommendations.

The testimony from supporters was profound and emotional. To see a video of this amazing hearing, click here. Consideration of HB 594 begins at about 1:51:20 into the recording.

The committee postponed its vote on whether to pass the bill to the House floor until Monday, May 6, which happens to be the last day it has to take action before the bill dies this session.