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Texas Next Stop for Marijuana Legalization Debate
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Representative Joe Moody introduced a bill that would decriminalize marijuana.

Summary: A bill that will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the state of Texas is gaining support.

Vice.com reports that Democratic Texas State Representative Joe Moody introduced a bill shortly before Christmas that would reduce criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Instead of being an arrestable offense that can land an offender up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine, the offender would instead pay a civil infraction of $100.

  
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Some law schools have begun offering marijuana law classes.

The bill has received bipartisan support from both liberal and conservative organizations. The bill, HB 507, is expected to receive partisan support from Texas Democrats, and “liberty-minded” Republicans. However, before the bill can become a law, more conservative Republicans must be receptive to reform, especially when it comes to fiscal responsibility.

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Randal Kuykendal, a long-time lobbyist who was hired by Marijuana Policy Project to advocate for new legislation in Texas, said, “What we’ve got to do with our legislation is pretty much tie it to new things.” First, he explained, they must “make sure legislators know that it’s safe—that even if our measures go horribly wrong, chaos is not going to occur.” Next, supporters will have to show “that there’s an economic impact positive to state. With the civil penalties bill, we’re saving resources, time and effort for prosecutors, and allowing people that are non-violent with minor offenses back in the workplace.”

Oklahoma and Nebraska filed a case in the Supreme Court against marijuana legalization legislation.

The Daily Chronic adds that the state of Texas has some of the most severe marijuana laws in the country. Representative Moody commented, “Our current marijuana policy in Texas just isn’t working. We need a new approach that allows us to more effectively utilize our limited criminal justice resources. This legislation is a much-needed step in the right direction.”

Oregon and Alaska have voted to legalize marijuana.

Matthew Simpson, a policy strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, explained, “The War on Marijuana is a failure and has needlessly ensnared hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system, at tremendous human and financial cost. It’s time to implement reforms that are fairer, more compassionate, and smarter at reducing drug dependency and improving our health and safety.”

Photo credit: tokeofthetown.com

 



 

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