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First Marijuana Policy Reform Bill Advances from Texas House Committee

First Marijuana Policy Reform Bill Advances from Texas House Committee

Yesterday, the Texas Legislature's Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence gave bipartisan approval of legislation that makes small possession of marijuana a ticketable offense instead of a felony. 

The bill, HB 507 sponsored by Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), is the first time any legislation of its kind has advanced from a Texas Legislative committee.

The move shows that the Legislature is listening to the more than 20,000 Texans who have advocated for reform this year. 

The bill would change the offense for possessing one ounce of marijuana from a felony requiring jail time to a ticket and a fine. This change can be particularly helpful for young and minority populations.

HB 507 is now headed to the Calendars Committee, where it must be scheduled for a full vote on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives. The deadline for bills to be heard on the House floor is next Thursday, May 13th.

Recent polls find that 60% of Texans would support Rep. Moody’s legislation. Currently, Texas spends $734 million every year on 70,000 marijuana arrests and prosecutions, mostly involving young, nonviolent offenders possessing small amounts.

In a Progress Texas interview with Rep. Moody, he offered details about his bill which proposes changing state law to allow law enforcement to issue tickets for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, instead of requiring jail time. The policy shift would save local taxpayer dollars and allow law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes.