The Texas State Capitol building in Austin, Texas.

Phil Roeder

Decriminalization Bill Pre-Filed in Texas State Legislature

A bill to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis possession has been pre-filed in the Texas House of Representatives by Democratic Rep. Joe Moody, according to a blog post by Texas NORML. The measure would decriminalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana, reducing the penalty to just a $250 fine.

Possession of more than an ounce would remain a misdemeanor of varying degrees based on the amount, and the legislation (HB 81) does not remove any language permitting life sentences for possession over 2,000 pounds.

A same-as bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. José Rodríguez, was pre-filed in the state Senate. Rodríguez is also supporting two joint resolutions that would put both medical and recreational cannabis use initiatives to voters. The medical initiative would seek to expand the state’s limited program enacted in June 2015.

A joint resolution is the only way Texans are able to directly vote on state legislation as there is no state law permitting ballot initiatives.

“It is long past time we allow the people to decide,” Rodríguez said in a press release. “Polling indicates majorities in favor of both proposals, and it goes against the state’s democratic values and faith in its people to deny them a chance to vote on the matter.”

The state’s first medical dispensary is expected to be licensed in June 2017.

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