Texas: Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Advances Out Of Key Committee

Rep. Joe Moody’s bill to reduce penalties for low-level marijuana possession has passed out of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee with a bipartisan vote of 5-2!

If HB 63 passes the House and Senate, Texans would no longer face jail time or the collateral consequences that come along with a criminal drug conviction!

The policy proposed by this bill is in line with the Republican and Democratic Platforms as well as numerous other states. Such a change will save taxpayers money and allow police and the courts to re-prioritize their resources toward addressing more serious crimes. Minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, should not be saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.

Texans, please ask your representative to co-author HB 63.

The next step for the bill will for it to be referred to the Calendars Committee, which Rep. Moody sits on as Vice-Chair. We will keep you updated with strategic actions and bill movement updates.

The bill was amended by the committee and now allows an individual to receive two civil penalties ($250 fine) before facing Class C Misdemeanor charges for subsequent offenses. Even after three or more charges, though, Rep. Moody’s bill institutes an automatic deferral, allowing the individual to avoid a permanent criminal record. This is a vast improvement from current law, which penalizes even small amounts with an arrest, up to 180 days in jail, up to $2,000 in fines, and a permanent criminal record.

What Can You Do Next?

* Lt. Governor Dan Patrick says he’s not supportive of marijuana law reform. Sign our petition to ask him to reconsider his position, which is at odds with public opinion and the official position of his own political party. (Signature will be hand delivered later this week.)

* We’re more than halfway to our crowdfunding goal. Will you pitch toward our efforts at the Capitol? (Thank you!)

Ask your Representative to Co-Author HB 1365! Texas patients need safe access to medical marijuana.

* The Texas Medical Association (TMA) has long supported a physician’s right to discuss marijuana use with patients. Recently, though, the powerful association went further, offering several recommendations about the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana, Cannabidiol, and Related Compounds. (More here.)

This is a positive step forward for this important legislation, but there still is much work to do. We will need all hands-on deck over the next week so stay tuned for our action alerts!