Texas is one step closer to eliminating the criminal penalties associated with minor marijuana possession.
On Monday, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee put its seal of approval on a measure (House Bill 81) that would allow police all over the Lone Star state to simply slap those people caught in possession of up to an ounce of weed with a small fine instead of dragging them to jail. The state currently deems this offense a Class B misdemeanor, which carries the potential for pot offenders to serve up to six months behind bars.
To ensure the bill made its way through the first phase of the legislative process, Representative Joe Moody, who also Chairs the committee, was forced to amend the language in a manner that allows judges the right to hit habitual pot offenders with a Class C misdemeanor.
“If you’re going to be a frequent customer, you will be moved into the criminal arena,” Moody said.
It was this move that put a shit-eating grin on the mugs of Republican forces, allowing the bill to be sent through in a vote of 4-to-2. The bill is now set to go before the Calendars Committee, which has the power to decide if the bill will get a fair shot in front of the full House.
“The state’s current policy of arresting and jailing people for simple marijuana possession is completely unwarranted,” Heather Fazio, a spokesperson for Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, said in a statement. “Law enforcement officials’ time and limited resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes… No one should be saddled with a lifelong criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol.”