Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) filed the decrim bill
House Bill 184, which would reduce penalties for marijuana possession in Texas, has already been filed and is ready for the Legislature’s upcoming session in January.
The bill, filed by Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston), would reduce possession of up to an ounce of marijuana to a Class C misdemeanor, reports Sergio Chapa at ValleyCentral.com. Class C misdemeanors carry no jail time, and are punishable by up to a $500 fine.
“We are under no illusions that full decriminalization is gonna come to Texas anytime soon,” said Josh Schimberg of the Texas chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Schimberg said the Austin-based group is pushing for full legalization, but sees HB 184 as a step in the right direction.
Josh Schimberg, Texas NORML: “If you wanna protect children from marijuana, the best to do with it is to legalize it”
“If you wanna protect children from marijuana, the best to do with it is to legalize it and put it behind a storefront and ask for ID,” Schimberg said.
“As a taxpayer myself, I see them putting out money to get that guy a free lawyer and a free meal while all the time in jail,” said Rene Jaime, who owns Dark Secrets Smoke Shop in Brownsville. “I want that money in my pocket.”
Republican lawmaker Aaron Peña of Edinburg said the similar marijuana decrim bills are introduced every legislative session. He said the bill will have a tough time without including a component to send pot smokers to rehab or other “drug treatment” programs.
“If you’re going to make a judgment based on the past, it’s not likely to pass,” Peña said. “However, there is a growing awareness that we need to empty our jails of minor drug offenders and divert them to treatment.”
Meanwhile, responsible adult users of cannabis in Texas continue to wonder when their government will stop treating them like children and give them the simple respect of allowing them their own lifestyle choices.