HOUSE BILL 81: Texas bill to decriminalize pot advances but faces midnight deadline

Originally posted by KATEY PSENCIK  on May 11, 2017 for Austin-American Statesman here

A proposed law that would reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Texas to below that of most traffic tickets could come up for a historic vote by the Texas House on Thursday — if a jammed House calendar and the glacial pace of the legislative process doesn’t kill it first.

House Bill 81, which would make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil, not criminal, offense, faces a deadline of midnight Thursday to be given initial consideration on the floor of the full House or, like most House-originated bills, it’s dead.

The two main sponsors of the bill — state Reps. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, and Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs — voiced skepticism Wednesday that the bill will be taken up by the midnight deadline because of the crowded House schedule. Still, they applauded that the bill managed to make it onto the calendar of the full House at all.

“This is a big deal in a state that a few years ago wouldn’t even consider these (marijuana-related) bills in committee,” said Moody, who sponsored a similar decriminalization bill last session that cleared a committee but never made it onto the House calendar for consideration.

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