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Texas Legislative Committee Debates Lesser Punishment For Marijuana, No Vote Yet
The debate over pot possession sparks up at the Texas Capitol Tuesday.
State lawmakers are considering a bill that seeks to eliminate jail time for people busted with small amounts of marijuana.
House Bill 184 is sponsored by State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston. Currently possession of up to 2-ounces of marijuana is a Class B Misdemeanor, and could result in a 6-month stint in jail.
The Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project is urging state lawmakers to pass the bill.
"Texas should not only consider this, they should pass it quickly. There are a shocking number of arrests, 70,000 arrests per year in Texas. It's wasting a lot of police time a lot of court time, screws up chances to go to college and get a job and it's wasting taxpayer money," said Rob Kampia.
If passed, the bill would make possession of marijuana, up to one ounce, a Class C Misdemeanor. A conviction would carry a $500 fine and no jail time.
The Austin Police Department began enforcing a "cite and release" policy in 2009 for small amounts for marijuana. According to a department spokesman, APD has found success with the policy, adding "it helps keep officers on the street."