Bills to Reduce Marijuana Penalties Introduced in Texas

Nov 15, 2016 citation, decriminalization, Dripping Springs, El Paso, Jason Isaac, Joe Moody, Jose Rodr’guez, mesdemeanor, possession


Nov. 14 was the first day bills could be filed in Texas for the 2017 legislative session, and Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) didn’t waste any time. He introduced HB 81, which would replace possible arrests and jail time with a civil fine for low-level possession of marijuana. As a former prosecutor and the current Vice Chairman of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Rep. Moody is a champion of sensible marijuana policy because he has seen how current laws are failing our communities.

[caption id="attachment_10160" align="alignright" width="150"]moody Rep. Joe Moody[/caption]

Sen. Jose Rodríguez, also of El Paso, introduced a Senate companion bill, SB 170.
The bill, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), would make possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a non-criminal offense punishable by a fine of $250. Under current law, possession of two ounces or less is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail.
In addition to preventing arrests and traumatic incarceration, reducing possession to a civil penalty would stop marking marijuana consumers for life with a devastating criminal record that can derail dreams. Collateral consequences from a conviction include limiting access to higher education, employability, and occupational licensing — plus, it results in the automatic suspension of a person's drivers license. These penalties are harsh and unreasonable.