Texas House Committee Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

A proposal to decriminalize marijuana possession in Texas received bipartisan approval from the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee today and will soon be scheduled for a full vote in the House.

The measure passed by a vote of 4-2, receiving support from two Democrats and two Republicans. House Bill 81, authored by committee Chairman Joe Moody (D-El Paso) and Rep. Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs) with 37 co-authors, 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.

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New Marijuana Policy Takes Effect Tomorrow in Texas’ Most Populous County

Harris County’s Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program takes effect tomorrow, March 1st.

The new program – put forth by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg – makes it so that those caught possessing up to four ounces of cannabis within the county will no longer be arrested or charged with a criminal misdemeanor in most instances. Instead they will be mandated to take a four-hour drug education class.

Harris County is by far Texas’ most populated county with over 4.5 million residents. The county includes Houston, the most populated city in the state and the fourth most populated city in the country; its 2 million residents is more than the population of 15 states.

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New Poll Finds Only 17% of Those in Texas Support the Status Quo on Marijuana

The vast majority of Texans support a reformation of their state’s marijuana laws, according to new polling.

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll found that 83% of those in Texas support legalizing marijuana for at least medical use. 53% support legalizing recreational cannabis; of those 32% support legalizing “small amounts”, while 21% support legalizing “any amount:.

The poll marks a large increase in support from February, 2015; at that time 43% supported legalizing cannabis, with an additional 30% in support of legalizing medical cannabis.

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Constitutional Amendment to Legalize Cannabis Filed in Texas

A Texas bill to make legal cannabis a constitutional right has been filed in the state’s legislature.

Constitutional AmendmentState Representative Donna Howard filed HJR 46 late last week. The measure is a “constitutional amendment directing the legislature to authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis.”

The proposal joins several other measures that have been filed in the state that would either decriminalize cannabis or greatly reduced the charges associated with it, though HJR 46 is the only one that would actually make cannabis legal.

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