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Marijuana penalty reduction bills scheduled for hearing in Texas

potcuffsThree bills which would decrease the penalties associated with possession of marijuana have been scheduled for a hearing in the Texas legislature.

The Criminal Jurisprudence Committee has slated them to be heard on Wednesday, April 8 at the capitol.

Introduced by Rep. Joe Moody and co-authored by Rep. Eddie Eddie Lucio, House Bill 507 would reduce the penalty for possession of an ounce or less of cannabis to a $100 fine with no jail time.

House Bill 325 was introduced by Rep. Gene Wu and has been signed by seven co-authors in the House. The bill trends the penalties for possession downward, making .35 ounces or less a Class C misdemeanor. It would also decrease possession of less than two ounces to a Class B misdemeanor, and less than four ounces to a Class A misdemeanor.

Also being heard that day is House Bill 2165, which would remove all penalties for marijuana in Texas, introduced by Rep. David Simpson.

Those interested in signing up to testify in support or against the bills must do so prior to the hearing.

In December of last year, the Houston Chief of Police Charles McClelland was quoted as saying that “marijuana prohibition is a failed public policy.”

“It’s not uncommon to hear these sorts of comments from police on the street,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of LEAP, a group of law enforcement officers opposed to the War On Drugs. “What is less common is to see a top administrator choose to speak out about what’s right despite major financial incentives – in the form of federal grants and asset forfeiture proceeds – to protect the status quo.”

Another cannabis related hearing was held back in March concerning two hemp bills, which are expected to be voted on some time this month. In all, 13 people showed up to testify on the hemp bills, including 12 in support, and the sheriff of Denton County, who seemed very confused about what he was testifying on, saying that hemp and marijuana are the same thing.

Polling by Texas Tribune shows that about 77 percent of Texans want to change marijuana laws in the state.

By: Stephen Carter

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**Updated to reflect HB 2165

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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