Despite its reputation as an anti-marijuana State, Texas may be on the verge of enacting major legal reform.
The anti-marijuana campaign burned bright for decades. Research, medicine, and civil rights, on the other hand, suffered incredible setbacks during the “War on Drugs.” However, anti-marijuana crusaders may be losing their largest stronghold.
Texas may enact major changes to state marijuana laws. Rep Joe Moody (D-El Paso) recently filed a bill that would reduce the penalty associated with possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. Currently, low-level possession cases are considered a Class B misdemeanor. If HB81 passes, the penalty would be reduced to a civil citation and maximum fine of $250.
Moody stressed that he was not seeking the legalization of marijuana, but rather, looking to reprioritize law enforcement’s time and resources.
“No police officer or prosecutor anywhere in this state brags about the kid with a joint case. Because they don’t, those cases don’t make us any safer,” said Moody. “They didn’t get in law enforcement to work on those kinds of cases. In fact, using our resources for those cases make us less safe.”
Moody may be doing more than simply paying lip service to police officers. Members of Texas law enforcement attended a legislative meeting and spoke out in favor of HB81. Judge John Delaney, a retired district court judge from Texas, echoed Moody’s statements on decriminalizing marijuana.
“Every year we arrest about 60,000 people in Texas for possession of tiny amounts of marijuana,” Judge Delaney said, according to Civilized. “Each arrest takes about two hours of police time, not to mention the added burden on jails and courts. This diverts resources that could be spent helping victims of violence and serious property crimes. Issuing citations makes more sense. What’s more, a marijuana conviction affects a person’s ability to work and support a family for the rest of their life. No one wins; all of us lose.”