Apr 20, 2023 - News

Texas House bill could reduce penalties for marijuana possession

Illustration of a gavel, but the handle is a marijuana joint.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

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.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Dallas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Dallas stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Dallas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more