AUSTIN, Texas. (Apr. 4, 2017) – A a Texas House committee has approved a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession. Final passage into law would take a big step toward nullifying federal cannabis prohibition in practice in the state.
Rep. Joseph Moody (D-El Paso), along with 38 bipartisan co-sponsors, introduced House Bill 81 (HB81). The legislation would change state law so that “a person who knowingly or intentionally possesses a usable quantity of marihuana in an amount that is one ounce or less is liable to the state for a civil penalty not to exceed $250.”
In addition, civil penalties for simple marijuana possession could be waived in certain instances under HB81 if the offender “attends a program that provides education in substance abuse and is approved by the Department of State Health Services or the Texas Department of Public Safety” or “the person performs not more than 10 hours of community service” at the court’s behest. Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana would be considered a criminal offense.
The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee voted to approve HB81 on Apr. 3 by a 4-2 margin. Rep. Moody along with Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), Rep. Terry Wilson (R-Granite Shoals), and Rep. Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio) voted to pass the bill while Rep. Mike Lang (R-Granbury) and Rep. Cole Hefner (R-Mount Pleasant) voted to kill HB81. After being approved in its committee,
“This is a bipartisan proposal that represents a moderate shift in how Texas manages low-level marijuana offenses,” said Heather