House Bill 441, which would decriminalize a certain amount of marijuana, was passed by the Texas House of Representatives. It now stands before the Senate, where a similar bill was struck down two years ago.
Marijuana Legislation in Texas
Texas is starting to catch up with other states that have decriminalized marijuana. Well hopefully. On Friday last week, the Texas House of Representatives passed HB 441 (by 88 votes to 40), which would essentially decriminalize a small amount of cannabis. The bill would make possession of up to an ounce pot a Class C offense, which means no jail time. This bill also prevents the police from arresting anyone with less than an ounce.
A 2020 report by the American Civil Liberties Union showed that African Americans in Texas were 2.6 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than whites in 2018, although both groups use the drug similarly across the country. In both 2018 and 2019, around 30% of Texas arrested for marijuana possession were African American, though they made up only 12% of the population. This problem is seen in the US, but bills like this are definitely a step in the right direction.
Heather Fazio, President of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, said, “The cannabis bills are on the move in Texas and it is exciting to see that HB 441 is bipartite, carefully crafted to avoid arrest and risk a jail sentence for marijuana possession. Lawyers are already preparing for action in the Senate. With a fair shot, HB 441 could deserve enough support to move into law. “We appreciate all marijuana enthusiasts who promote cannabis activism across the country.
The Difficulties With Legalizing Marijuana In Texas
The biggest challenge before HB 441 is the vote in the Senate. As mentioned earlier, there was a similar bill that the House passed in 2019 but the Senate did not. This was because of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), who presides over the Senate. He has continued to kill efforts to reform cannabis laws in the state, raising the question, “Will this happen in the Senate?”
The Lt. Governor was once quoted as saying, “We always listen to the health issues, but we’re not going to convert this to California, where anyone can get a receipt from the doctor and go to a retail store and say,” You know, I have a headache today “That’s why I need marijuana” because that’s just a veil to legalize it for recreational use. “And it doesn’t seem like his mind has changed much on the matter, but we can safely hope he comes around.
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