House Bill 63, legislation aimed at removing criminal penalties for the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, has once again been introduced into the Texas state legislature, The Texas Observer reports.
The legislation received a hearing in front of the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. The bill, introduced by state Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), is Moody’s third attempt to pass decriminalization legislation in Texas — the other two bills failed to reach a full vote on the House floor.
The odds of the bill making it to the floor this year are higher, however, as Moody is now the vice chair of the House Calendars Committee, which sets the House’s agenda.
The bill would downgrade the penalty for possession of up to an ounce of cannabis from a criminal offense carrying a potential sentence of up to six months in jail to a simple civil offense carrying a fine of $250. The violation would not appear on a criminal record.
If passed into law, House Bill 63 is expected to save the state $2.6 million per year in enforcement-related costs. Moody expects the bill to pass out of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee soon and has been courting Texas Republicans for their approval at the next level.
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