State Rep. Joe Moody(Photo: Ruben R. Ramierz/El Paso Times)
AUSTIN – Being caught with a small amount of marijuana would be punishable only by a civil fine and would not involve the criminal justice system under legislation being carried by the newly minted chairman of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.
“Marijuana possession, even in small amounts, would still be illegal in Texas and it would still be confiscated and destroyed,” said state Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso. “But the difference is, merely being in possession is not going to put you in jail.
Moody’s legislation, House Bill 81, classifies “a small amount” as an ounce or less of marijuana. Someone with that amount would be subject to a fine of up to $250. But no arrest would be made and no criminal record would follow, Moody said.
Last week, he was joined at the Texas Capitol by advocates for relaxing criminal laws for marijuana procession as well as a retired state district judge and representatives from the law enforcement community.
“Every year we arrest about 60,000 people in Texas for possession of tiny amounts of marijuana,” said the retired judge, John Delaney, who has long supported marijuana decriminalization efforts. “Each arrest takes about two hours of police time, not to mention the added burden on jails and courts.”
The legislation is similar to several measures that seek to scale back the punishment for the possession of marijuana for personal use. Last fall, the cities of