PHOTO: Cannabis, Photo Date: 2/10/2015. (Photo: Pixabay)
A hearing in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee was heard Monday. House Bill 81, authored by Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) and Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), would remove the threat of being arrested or serving jail time for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.
Instead, the possession charge would be replaced with a civil penalty and fine of up to $250, the equivalent of a parking ticket.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, there were 61,749 marijuana possession arrests in Texas in 2015.
“To make an arrest for a marijuana case it takes about 2.5 hours of police time,” said Senior District Judge John Delaney.
John Hall is a retired lieutenant from the Houston Police Department with 30 years of experience in law enforcement. He’s in favor of HB 81 because of the time and resources he says it takes to make one of these arrests.
“At the present rate we put the citizens as collateral damage because of the fact that we’re not spending more time solving the violent crimes they’re more interested in,” Hall said.
Not everyone is in favor of what this bill would do. In a 2014 report titled “Sheriff’s Association of Texas says ‘no’ to marijuana,” the organization said in part:
“We have never allowed it, and we never will … while marijuana may not be addictive