One of the most common questions that I get asked on social media and e-mail is when will Texas reform its marijuana laws? Some of the hardest working marijuana activists are in Texas. I have watched their efforts over the years, and I am always blown away by how passionate they are, especially with the DFW NORML chapter. Unfortunately, reforming marijuana laws in Texas is a bit harder than the states that have already reformed their cannabis laws. That’s because Texas doesn’t have a citizen initiative process.
In some states, citizens are able to gather signatures and submit them to the state for validation. If enough signatures are gathered, marijuana reform is placed on the ballot. That’s how most states have legalized their marijuana laws. Unfortunately that is not an option for Texas. All roads to marijuana reform in Texas must go through the Texas Legislature. Today is the first day that bills can be filed for the upcoming session, and I’m happy to say, a marijuana decriminalization bill has already been introduced. Below is a legislative alert that I received today from the Marijuana Policy Project:
Today was the first day bills could be filed in Texas for the 2017 legislative session, and Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) didn’t waste any time! He introduced HB 81, which would replace possible arrests and jail time with a civil fine for low-level possession of marijuana. As a former prosecutor and the current Vice Chairman of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, Rep. Moody is a champion of sensible marijuana policy because he, like you, has seen how current laws are failing our communities.
In addition to preventing arrests and traumatic incarceration, reducing possession to a civil penalty would stop marking marijuana consumers for life with a devastating criminal record that can derail dreams. Collateral consequences from a conviction include limiting access to higher education, employability, and occupational licensing — plus, it results in the automatic suspension of a person’s drivers license. These penalties are harsh and unreasonable. Tell your legislators it’s time for a change!
Please share this with your friends and family members who are interested in seeing more sensible marijuana policies instituted in Texas.
If you live in Texas, you are going to want to hit your Representatives with the facts. When you contact them be polite and to the point, and provide as much solid info as you can. Anecdotal information only goes so far. Being logical and effective with your approach, and let your Representatives know that arresting people for marijuana is bad public policy. Decriminalization is not as good as legalization, but it’s certainly better than making people criminals for possession. Currently in Texas possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.