Texas lawmakers approve bill on decriminalization


The bill would prevent 75 000 Texans from being arrested every year

Texas would become the 25e state of the United States to remove the threat of being jailed for possession of small amounts of cannabis under a bill approved by the House of Representatives of the State this Monday.

The bill, which would punish people with 30 grams or less, a fine of 500 $ instead of arrest and incarceration, was passed by a vote of 98 against 43.

Representative Joseph Moody, the lead sponsor, amended the floor bill to get more support from his colleagues. An earlier version provided for a lower fine of 250 $ and would have treated low-level possession as a civil offense rather than a class C offense, as is the case in the revised proposal.

But its general effects remain the same: no arrest or incarceration for people caught with small amounts of cannabis.

They will also avoid having a long-term criminal record as long as they respect the conditions of exclusion imposed by judges, such as performing community work or completing drug education courses.

"Texans have suffered too long from failed marijuana policies," said Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy. "The Moody's representative's bill will help preserve the precious resources of public safety and prevent a mere charge from derailing a person's life."

The proposal also provides for a procedure to remove cannabis-related offenses, which means they would not have a criminal record, which can have long-term consequences for employment, housing, training and the ability to retain a driver's license.

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