Someday … someday … OK, maybe today, but just not legally.
BY STANTON BRASHER
Three bills that take different approaches to reforming Texas’ marijuana laws got a hearing before the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence on Wednesday. Supporters packed the only committee hearing scheduled on the bills in either chamber. With the clock running out on the session, other hearings aren’t likely, and regardless odds are long against the Legislature passing any big changes to the state’s tough marijuana laws this year.
Still, the bills, along with several others, are at least some movement on the road to Texas maybe someday allowing adults the freedom to toke without fear of arrest.
Each of the three bills the committee considered late Wednesday offers a different approach to the current demand for reform in Texas, from reducing penalties for possession to throwing the door wide open to legalization.
The first two bills, HB 325 and HB 414, seek to reduce possession of 0.35 ounces of marijuana to a Class C Misdemeanor. Currently, it is a Class B misdemeanor. They also drop possession of 2 ounces to a Class B misdemeanor and under four ounces to a Class A misdemeanor. Representatives Harold Dutton Jr. and Gene Wu from Houston are backing these bills.
El Paso Rep. Joe Moody’s HB 507 takes a much larger stride in marijuana reform. It would reduce penalties for possession of less than 1 ounce to a $100 fine and no jail time.
“As a lawmaker, I have a responsibility to make sure we’re spending our resources wisely and treating our people fairly,” Moody said in a press release from the Marijuana Policy Project. “That’s what HB 507 is about.”
The bill that has most legalization advocates producing foam from their previously dry cotton mouths is HB 2165 from Rep. David Simpson of Tyler. This bill effectively legalizes marijuana with little to no regulation, like “tomatoes or jalapenos.”
While critics of this bill have been quick to point out the lack of regulation could do more harm than good, Shaun McAlister, director of DFW NORML, is confident that this bill is a stepping stone to a broader version of reform.
“Should Simpson’s bill pass this session, I wouldn’t be surprised to see future bills that work to establish a regulatory framework as we’ve seen in other states,” McAlister said.
If Simpson’s bill passes this session, Unfair Park wouldn’t be surprised by anything ever again — flying pigs, leprechauns, a Democratic …Read More