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Texas: Congressman Hosts Public Hearing on Reducing Penalties for Cannabis

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HB 334, which was introduced in the special legislative session, would replace criminal penalties for low-level cannabis possession with a civil citation

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On Wednesday, Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Chairman Joe Moody held a public hearing to discuss reducing state cannabis possession penalties to support HB 334, which Rep. Moody introduced in the special legislative session in July.

Texas: Bill Introduced to Decriminalize Cannabis

Texas Cannabis

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

On July 27, Texas Representative Joe Moody introduced, HB 334, a bill calling for the decriminalization of cannabis possession. The proposed legislation would also create an exception to prosecution for possession of associated drug paraphernalia in the Lone Star State.

Under the proposed law, possession of over one ounce of marijuana would still be punishable with a misdemeanor, while five pounds or more would still garner a felony charge.

Texas: Bill To Decriminalize Marijuana Is Getting A Hearing In The State House

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A bill that would decriminalize the use and possession of small amounts of marijuana has been scheduled for a hearing at the Texas State Capitol.

House Bill 81 will be argued in front of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on March 13th. If it passes, it will make low-level marijuana possession a misdemeanor.

House Bill 81 would make possession of 1-2 ounces of marijuana a Class B misdemeanor. The possession of a small amount of marijuana would result in a civil penalty not exceeding $250. Possession of up to 4 ounces would result in a Class A misdemeanor, while any amount over that would result in a felony still.

The bill was authored by Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, and Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs.

Texas: Provocative Marijuana TV Ad To Begin Airing As Lawmakers Consider Reducing Penalties

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A provocative television ad in support of legislation to reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession in Texas began airing Tuesday in the state’s four largest media markets.

The ad is scheduled to air on CNN, ESPN, and Fox News Channel across Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin through Thursday at midnight, the deadline by which the House must approve HB 507 in order for it to advance to the Senate.

You can watch the ad below, or online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E83Uv4VtpsE.

In the ad, Russell Jones, a Texas Hill Country resident who served 10 years as a police officer and narcotics detective in California, highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol and says limited law enforcement resources should not be wasted on arresting and jailing people for using the less harmful substance.

“I know of no instance in my entire career where someone was acting out under the influence of marijuana,” Jones says. “People under the influence of alcohol are much more problematic.

"Law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time than arrest people for marijuana possession," Jones says in the ad. "They need to be there to protect the public, to respond to crimes such as robbery, burglaries, rape, and murders.”

The ad cites annual arrest reports produced by the Texas Department of Public Safety that show more than 360,000 arrests for marijuana possession were made in Texas from 2009-2013.

Texas: Bill To Reduce Penalties For Marijuana Possession Advances In House

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Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence approves HB 507, which would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of a personal amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250

The Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence on Monday approved a bill that would reduce state penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The measure will now advance to the House Calendars Committee.

HB 507, authored by committee vice-chair Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250. Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

“Texas cannot afford to continue criminalizing tens of thousands of citizens for marijuana possession each year,” Rep. Moody said. “We need to start taking a more level-headed approach. It is neither fair nor prudent to arrest people, jail them, and give them criminal records for such a low-level, non-violent offense.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were 72,150 arrests or citations issued for marijuana-related offenses in Texas in 2012, 97% of which were for simple possession. That same year, nearly 90% of all burglaries, including home invasions, and 88% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.

Texas: House Committee Takes Up 3 Bills On Marijuana Reform

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Three bills taking different approaches to reforming marijuana laws in Texas got a hearing before the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence last week.

Supporters packed the only committee hearing scheduled on the bills in either chamber, reports Stanton Brashier at the Dallas Observer. Other hearings this session are seen as unlikely.

The first two bills, HB 325 and HB 414, would reduce possession about about nine grams of marijuana -- 0.35 ounces -- to a class C misdemeanor from its current status as a class B misdemeanor. They'd also drop possession of two ounces to a class B misdemeanor and under four ounces to a class A misdemeanor. These bills are backed by Reps. Harold Dutton Jr., and Gene Wu, respectively, both of Houston.

HB 507, from Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso, would reduce penalties for possession of less than an ounce of cannabis to a $100 fine and no jail time. "As a lawmaker, I have a responsibility to make sure we're spending our resources wisely and treating our people fairly," Moody said. "That's what HB 507 is about."

HB 2165, from Rep. David Simpson of Tyler, would effectively legalize marijuana with little regulation, "like tomatoes or jalapenos." Shaun McAlister, director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said this one could be a stepping stone to more reform.

Texas: Lawmakers Hold Hearing On Bill To Reduce Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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The Texas House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence will hold a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would reduce state penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The hearing is scheduled to take place in the Texas State Capitol Extension E2.030 upon adjournment of the House.

HB 507, authored by committee vice-chair Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), will be one of several marijuana-related bills considered by the committee on Wednesday. It is the only proposal that would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of $100.

Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

“When I was a prosecutor, I saw firsthand how scarce our criminal justice resources are and how disproportionately harsh drug convictions can be on nonviolent offenders, especially young people,” said Rep. Moody. “As a lawmaker, I have a responsibility to make sure we’re spending our resources wisely and treating our people fairly. That’s what HB 507 is about.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were 72,150 arrests or citations issued for marijuana-related offenses in Texas in 2012, 97 percent of which were for simple possession. That same year, nearly 90 percent of all burglaries, including home invasions, and 88 percent of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.

Texas: Decrim Bill Introduced In Legislature; Sheriffs Say No Way

TexasMarijuanaFlag

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Could change be coming to the Lone Star State? A new bill which would decriminalize marijuana has just been introduced in the Texas Legislature, but the Texas Sheriff's Association has already publicly opposed the measure.

"The Sheriff's Association position is that we are going to oppose any effort to decriminalize marijuana, or legalize medical marijuana or any of the components of marijuana," Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk flatly stated, reports News Radio WOAI.

The proposed legislation, House Bill 507, would reduce impose civil fines rather than criminal penalties for marijuana possession. Texas law currently punishes possession with fines of up to $2,000 and jail terms of up to six months.

If passed, the new bill would fine users up to $100 for possession of amounts smaller than an ounce. It will be considered by the lawmakers when the holiday period ends on January 13.

"It's a good government measure that will save taxpayers lots of money and free up law enforcement resources for more serious offenses," said state Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), reports Haley Jennings at KBTX.

Texas: Lawmaker Introducing Bill To Reduce Penalties For Marijuana Possession

TexasMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Texas state Rep. Joe Moody introduced a bill Monday morning that would reduce penalties for marijuana possession in Texas. The bill would remove the threat of arrest, jail time and a criminal record for possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, reducing the penalty to a $100 civil fine.

Rep. Moody announced the details of the bill at a news conference hosted by Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy at 11:30 a.m. CT at the Texas State Capitol.

Rep. Moody was joined by retired Texas District Court Judge John Delaney, Matt Simpson of the ACLU of Texas, Ann Lee of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, Heather Fazio of the Marijuana Policy Project, and other representatives of the coalition, including the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.

“Our current marijuana policy in Texas just isn’t working,” Rep. Moody said. “We need a new approach that allows us to more effectively utilize our limited criminal justice resources. This legislation is a much-needed step in the right direction.”

"The War on Marijuana is a failure and has needlessly ensnared hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system, at tremendous human and financial cost,” said strategist Matthew Simpson of the ACLU of Texas, reports Mark Reagan at the San Antonio Current.

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