The legislation, should it become law, will prevent the incarceration of people solely for possessing one ounce or less of usable marijuana. While HB 81 would protect such individuals from a criminal conviction and prison time, police would be able seize their marijuana and issue them a citation that may lead to the imposing of an up to $250 fine.
In April, the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee of the state House approved the marijuana decriminalization legislation, a step in the process toward the floor consideration scheduled for the bill this week.
In 2015, the same committee approved then-Rep. David Simpson’s marijuana legalization bill (HB 2165). Simpson’s bill sought to treat marijuana the same as tomatoes for adults in the state. Simpson’s bill, which promised to bring to Texas marijuana legalization much more radical than marijuana legalization that has been approved in any state, was not considered on the House floor.
With Texas Governor Greg Abbott having declared that he opposes both recreational and medical marijuana legalization when he signed into law in 2015 legislation allowing quite limited medical use of low-THC marijuana extracts, decriminalization may be the most that can be implemented in the short term. Still, it would be nice also to see something more radical debated and voted on in the full Texas House and Senate.