Marijuana penalty reduction up for debate by Texas lawmakers

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — Texas lawmakers will hear public testimony on House Bill 81 Monday afternoon. If the bill passes it could remove the threat of arrest, jail time and a criminal record for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.

Supporters of HB 81 will testify beginning at 2 p.m. with consideration of the bill later in the day. Representatives of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy tell KXAN a retired Texas judge and a former Houston police lieutenant are expected to speak.

A recent poll shows that 83 percent of Texans support medical marijuana, according to the University of Texas and Texas Tribune. The poll also found that 53 percent of Texans support legalization of marijuana for any purpose.

Two years ago, Texas lawmakers passed a law legalizing the use of low THC cannabis oil for epilepsy patients. The Texas Department of Public Safety is going to oversee the program when it begins next fall.

According to the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2015, there were more than 60,000 arrests for marijuana possession in Texas, which made up more than 13 percent of all arrests in the state that year. It’s estimated those arrests and the subsequent prosecution cost taxpayers $1.5 billion.


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