A bill to come before the Texas state legislature will seek to soften the penalties for possessing marijuana in the state. House Bill (HB) 184 is courtesy state Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) and will go before the Republican controlled legislature.
The next session of the state legislature, which begins in January, will debate the passing of the bill which calls for the possessing of 1 oz. of marijuana to become a Class C misdemeanor with no jail time and a $500 fine. There are efforts to legalize pot in Texas but Josh Schimberg from the Texas chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) told Action News 4 in Texas that the passing of HB 184 would be a good first step.
“We are under no illusions that full decriminalization is gonna come to Texas any time soon,” Schimberg told the News station via Skype. “We just hope that this bill gets traction and maybe possibly gets passed."
Marijuana penalties in Texas
Currently in the state, one of the harshest in the U.S. when it comes to penalties for simple possession of pot, possessing 2 ounces or less is punishable by a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail; possessing 2 to 4 ounces can mean a $4,000 fine and one year in jail.
A high percentage of those incarcerated in Texas jails come from marijuana possession. In 2009 some 77,000 people in the state were arrested for possession of marijuana.