Texas marijuana penalty reduction bill sees first action
A bill in the Texas senate which would reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana took the first of many steps today.
SB 170, introduced by Senator José Rodríguez, a Democrat from El Paso, has been referred to the Criminal Justice Committee. The bill would turn possession of less than an ounce of marijuana into a civil fine. Those found in possession would receive a ticket of up to $250 and it would not go on their record, nor would it be considered a conviction.
Those found to be indigent, or unable to pay, by the court may have the fine waived and may instead complete no more than 10 hours of community service.
The fine may also be waived if a person agrees to take a drug education class.
Any marijuana found by police will be kept as evidence until the ticket is paid or otherwise satisfied. At that point it will be disposed of.
Currently those found in possession of two ounces or less are charged with a misdemeanor and can face up to 180 days in jail with a $2,000 fine. They also face an automatic suspension of their driver’s license.
This bill is one of 17 pieces of legislation which have been filed with the state legislature pertaining to cannabis for the 85th legislative session. Its next step will be to pass through a sub-committee before being heard by the full Criminal Justice Committee.