Texas House Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill, Sending It To Senate

MJ moment

The Texas House of Representatives on Friday approved a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession, sending it to the Senate. The action rounds out a busy week for cannabis reform in the chamber, where members have also advanced legislation to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, reduce penalties for possessing cannabis concentrates and require the state to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics like psilocybin and MDMA. In a 88-40 vote, the House approved HB 441, which would make possession of up to one ounce of cannabis a class C misdemeanor that does not come with the threat of jail time. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Erin Zwiener (D), would also end the threat of being arrested for low-level possession and give people the opportunity to avoid a conviction by providing for deferrals and dismissals. While decriminalization bills sometimes impose a civil penalty or infraction for possession, rather than a misdemeanor, this measure generally meets advocates’ definition of decriminalization because a class C misdemeanor does not involve incarceration as a punishment. Instead, people who commit the offense face a $500 fine. If the person pays the fine and enters into a plea of no contest or guilty, their case would be automatically deferred for one year. Then, if the judge’s orders are followed, they would avoid a criminal record. “Texas cannabis bills are on the move and it’s exciting to see bipartisan support for HB 441, which has been carefully crafted to eliminate the threat of arrest and jail time for marijuana possession,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told Marijuana Moment. “Advocates are already gearing up for action in the Senate. If given a fair shot, HB 441 could earn enough support to pass into law.” The House approved a cannabis decriminalization bill in 2019, but it did not advance in…

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Source : Texas House Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill, Sending It To Senate

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