One of the biggest positive steps for marijuana reform in Texas in 2017 happened here in Dallas. On Dec. 1, the city began issuing citations, rather than making arrests, for possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana. Those busted are still subject to the same penalties as they were before Dec. 1, but Dallas’ small step forward came after years of false starts and hard work. In other Dallas County cities, those arrested for pot possession alone will be released on personal recognizance bonds once they are processed, rather than being required to pay bail.
At the state level, the Texas Legislature has taken a similar path, inching toward reform in the 2015 and 2017 legislative sessions and creating optimism among marijuana reform advocates about what’s possible during the next session of the legislature in 2019.
For the first time in 2017, a bill that would’ve decriminalized possessing 1 ounce or less of marijuana made it on the Texas House’s voting schedule before being derailed by a procedural maneuver by the ultraconservative Texas Freedom Caucus to stall dozens of bills at the deadline. Despite the lack of a vote, it’s clear that the Legislature is becoming more open to reforming marijuana law. The proposed law, House Bill 81, picked up 41 co-sponsors, including Republicans and Democrats, on its way through the committee process.
Similarly, a comprehensive medical marijuana bill made it further than any similar measure had previously. House Bill 2107 passed out of committee with 78 co-sponsors, more than