In a significant step towards cannabis reform, the Texas House has passed a cannabis decriminalization bill, aiming to reduce penalties for possession of up to an ounce of flower or concentrates. While fines will still be imposed, the measure represents a smarter approach to cannabis possession under Texas law, signaling a potential shift in attitudes towards cannabis in the state.
Reduced Penalties for Possession:
Under the approved bill, possession of up to an ounce of cannabis would be classified as a Class C misdemeanor, resulting in reduced penalties compared to current state law. Previously, such possession was considered a Class B misdemeanor, carrying the possibility of up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Although fines would still be imposed, the bill aims to address cannabis possession in a more lenient manner.
State Rep. Joe Moody (D), one of the bill’s authors, highlights that the measure presents a smarter approach to cannabis possession. By downgrading personal use possession to a non-arrestable Class C offense, House Bill 218 acknowledges that possessing a small amount of cannabis remains illegal, but focuses on a more reasonable response to such offenses.
Penalty Reductions and the Road Ahead:
The decriminalization bill also includes reduced penalties for possession of two ounces or less, classified as a Class B misdemeanor, and possession of between two and four ounces, classified as a Class A misdemeanor. These reductions could lead to less severe consequences for individuals found in possession of larger quantities of cannabis.
While the bill’s passage in the Texas House is an encouraging development, it now moves to the Senate for further consideration. It is worth noting that the Senate previously rejected similar legislation in both 2019 and 2021. Nevertheless, the approval of this decriminalization bill demonstrates the growing recognition of the need for more sensible approaches to cannabis possession and could pave the way for continued reform efforts in the state.
The Texas House’s approval of a cannabis decriminalization bill marks a significant milestone in the state’s cannabis reform journey. By reducing penalties for possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, the measure offers a more balanced response to personal use possession offenses. While fines remain in place, this step towards decriminalization reflects an evolving perspective on cannabis in Texas and provides hope for further progress in the future.