Texas Legislature to Consider Decriminalization in 2015

A Texas bill prefiled for the 2015 legislative session would eliminate the possibility of arrest and criminal prosecution for low-level cannabis possession in the state.

House Bill 507 (HB507) would alter established law enforcement priorities in the state of Texas if it's passed into law. It was prefiled by Rep. Joe Moody (D-District 78) for consideration next year.

The bill states that "a person who knowingly or intentionally possesses a usable quantity of marihuana in an amount that is one ounce or less is liable to the state for a civil penalty not to exceed $100" and that "a peace officer may not make an arrest solely because of a violation" of the relaxed marijuana laws proposed in HB507.

Under HB507, the fine for marijuana possession may be reduced or fully waived if the person attends a mandated substance abuse program or performs up to 10 hours of community service. However, criminal charges become possible if drug paraphenalia is "knowingly or intentionally used, possessed, or delivered" in violation of the existing statute.

Although the passage of HB507 would not mean an immediate end to the war on marijuana, it is still a great step in the right direction. A state like Texas passing a law to decriminalize simple possession could be a game changer. It may lead to further measures to relax marijuana laws in the state, and could start the trend of more red states embracing the cannabis revolution.

Activists should embrace any opportunity that they have to make it more difficult for people to be locked in cages for the non-violent non-crime of marijuana possession. Full-blown legalization is on its way whether the prohibitionists like it or not. Measures like HB507 can help grease the wheels on our way toward that inevitable goal!

HOW TO SUPPORT THIS BILL

If you live in the state of Texas, contact your state legislators immediately. It is important for you to politely urge them to co-sponsor this important bill. That is how you can make a difference in the fight against cannabis prohibition.

If you live in different state, contact your state legislators and urge them to introduce a supporting bill to HB507 such as our P.E.A.C.E (Preventing Excessive Allocations for Cannabis Enforcement) Act.