El Paso State Rep Calls for Full Decriminalization of Marijuana

A bill filed Monday in advance of the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature would make the maximum penalty for the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a $100 fine. The fine would not count as a criminal conviction and could not considered as such by anyone performing a background check.

Current Texas law classifies the possession of any amount of marijuana less than 2 ounces as a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of no more than $2,000. In 2007, the state passed a law allowing for marijuana users to cited for the misdemeanor and released. Harris, Dallas and Tarrant, the three biggest counties in the state, have not adopted cite-and-release, but Dallas has signaled its intention to do so as part of a January 2015 pilot program.

See also: Dallas County Will Experiment with Not Arresting People Caught with Marijuana

The new decriminalization law, proposed by El Paso Democrat Joe Moody, would make cite-and-release moot.

"Our current marijuana policy in Texas just isn't working," Representative Moody said in a statement announcing his bill. "We need a new approach that allows us to more effectively utilize our limited criminal justice resources. This legislation is a much-needed step in the right direction."

Under the law, Texas law enforcement officers would not be able to make an arrest based solely on the possession of a small amount of pot. The $100 proposed fine could also be waived by a judge if the smoker agreed to complete community service hours or a diversion program.

If House Bill 507 makes it out of the legislative chambers and slips past Governor-elect Greg Abbott's desk, it would take effect September 1, 2015.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.