Texas House Approves Bill That Lowers Penalty for Pot Possession
The Texas House on Thursday (April 29th) approved a bill that could lead to lower penalties for those caught with small amounts of marijuana. The bill would also provide a way for for some Texans who have been charged with the crime to have it expunged from their record.
The bill will head to the Texas Senate next, where its fate is unknown, but not looking good. The Texas Tribune reported Thursday that Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick opposed a similar bill two years ago.
House Bill 441 would reduce the criminal penalty for having 1 ounce or less of marijuana from a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, to being a Class C misdemeanor, which carries no jail time. Police would also not be able to arrest someone who had an ounce or less of marijuana. Currently, marijuana possession of up to two ounces is considered a Class B misdemeanor.
According to the Texas Tribune, the bill's author worked with Governor Greg Abbott's staff on the bill:
In a committee hearing, Zwiener said the language had been worked on with Gov. Greg Abbott’s office and praised the “bipartisan conversation” over reducing possession penalties. The House passed a similar measure two years ago, but Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick opposed it and quickly declared it dead in the upper chamber. Patrick’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
There are some law enforcement agencies in Texas that have already stopped arresting people who have small amounts of marijuana.
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