Texas Pot smokers may be one step closer to celebrating in the streets.
A bill seeking to decriminalize the use and possession of small quantities of marijuana has been scheduled for a hearing at the Texas State Capitol.
House Bill 81, which aims to categorize low-level marijuana possession as a misdemeanor, will be will be argued in front of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on March 13th.
The committee will hear witness testimony from experts, as well as people who have been convicted or arrested for marijuana-related offenses, according to Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy.
Authored by Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, and Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, House Bill 81 would make the possession of 1-2 ounces of marijuana as a Class B misdemeanor. In addition, the possession of a small amount of marijuana would result in a civil penalty not exceeding $250. Up to 4 ounces of marijuana would result in a Class A misdemeanor, while any more than that would still result in a felony.
The weed-friendly bill comes on the heals of a policy recently implemented by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, which allows people caught with up to 4 ounces of pot to take a four-hour drug-education class instead of going to jail.
When Ogg’s plan was announced, Moody said he believed it would give this bill momentum.
“What the DA in Harris County is doing is exercising her discretion as allowed under the law,” Moody said in a Feb. 16 story on Chron.com. “I support that program. It’s smart in cases of this type. Her predecessor had a similar policy issue. This is not a partisan issue.”
However, not ever politician in Austin was as excited about the Houston plan as Moody, with notable push back from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
“The lieutenant governor has said repeatedly regarding sanctuary cities that he does not believe that law enforcement has the discretion to choose what laws to enforce and what laws to ignore,” Patrick press secretary Alejandro Garcia told Chron.com in February. “That is his position regarding DA Ogg’s proposal.”
In the Senate, where Patrick presides, companion bill SB 170 was referred to the Criminal Justice Committee on Jan. 25.