A Texas bill that seeks to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana is currently being debated in Austin.
The bill was rejected by lawmakers (why?!) and is now being substantially rewritten in an effort to increase its chances of becoming a law.
Currently possession of any amount of marijuana is a criminal offense in Texas but House Bill 63 would remove the penalty for getting caught with an ounce or less of marijuana and replaced it with a $250 fine.
Unfortunately Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) has now filed an amended version of the legislation.
Rep Moody's new bill would still punish people for possessing a plant, but the punishment should be less harsh than how the law is currently written. Moody said making this change is the only way the bill will pass.
As for the Republicans, Lt Governor Dan Patrick has opposed changing the state's pot laws for quite some time. Governor Greg Abbott, on the other hand, supports lessening the punishment but not full decriminalization.
Considering that Texas is currently surrounded in every direction by states who grant legal access of marijuana to citizens, one has to wonder why Texas lawmakers are so hesitant to change public policy. What the hell are they afraid of?!
The current law states that anyone caught with an ounce or less of marijuana can end up locked in jail for 180 days and be required to pay a $2,000 fine. If Moody's amended bill passes, it would lessen the penalty to a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $500 or less and no jail time.
In the year 2017 there were over 60,000 people arrested for marijuana possession in Texas. Virtually all of these incidents were victimless crimes.
Texas: let's get caught up with the 21st century and admit, as a state, that possession of a plant shouldn't be a criminal offense.
SIERRA BLANCA, TX - NOVEMBER 26: In this booking photo provided by the Hudspeth Country Sheriff's Department, musician Willie Nelson is seen in a booking photo November 26, 2010 in Sierra Blanca, Texas. Nelson was arrested for possession of marijuana and released on $2,500 bond. (Photo by Hudspeth Country Sheriff's Department/Getty Images)