Texas House bill could reduce penalties for marijuana possession
The Texas House is considering a bill that would reduce the penalty for possession of cannabis and cannabis concentrates.
Why it matters: More than 21,000 people were arrested for possession of marijuana in Texas in 2021, the last year for which statistics are available, according to NORML, a national nonprofit that advocates for the reform of cannabis laws.
- Those arrests cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Rep. Joe Moody, a Democrat from El Paso, who authored House Bill 218.
Details: Under current law, possession of up to 2 ounces is a Class B misdemeanor, and possession of between 2 ounces and 4 ounces is a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in a year in jail and a fine of $4,000.
- Possession of more than 4 ounces is a felony, as is possession of any amount of concentrate, including vape pens and gummies.
Yes, but: If Moody's bill became law, the penalty for possession of 1 ounce of flower or concentrate would be a Class C misdemeanor, and it would only be a citable offense, not resulting in an arrest.
- The bill would also require courts to give the ticketed person probation and a chance to expunge the charge from their record.
Between the lines: While other bills this session would allow local governments to legalize recreational marijuana, activists are more optimistic about the prospects for HB 218.
- "Moody's bill is really poised to have the best shot of passing," Daryoush Austin Zamhariri, creator of the Fort Worth-based Texas Cannabis Collective news site, told the Dallas Observer last month.
What we're watching: The Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee voted 9-0 to advance the bill, but it hasn't been scheduled for a larger vote.
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