Because drug laws and regulations are controlled by state law, some states have very different laws in how they view and see drug use and possession for personal use. More states tend to be moving away from decriminalizing marijuana, although it hasn’t happened in Texas yet. However, a bill to decriminalize personal use amounts of marijuana is getting a hearing, known as House Bill 63.
While the bill doesn’t suggest zero penalties for those found to have possession of marijuana for personal use, House Bill 63 does suggest civil penalties rather than criminal. Currently in Texas, state law dictates that those found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can face misdemeanor charges that could result in 180 days in jail or fines up to $2,000, at the max penalty. In comparison, if the bill passes, the accused would face fines of $250 and potentially misdemeanor charges if charged three times or more.
If passed, HB 63 would also reduce the instances of license suspensions, as this is often something those convicted of personal use marijuana possession, face. It would also save officers time as they can write a ticket for marijuana possession, rather than arresting and prosecuting the accused. Proponents of the bill argued that this would give a more streamlined approach and law guidance to the many municipalities and counties that have varying legislation on the issue of marijuana drug offenders.
If you or someone you know is facing a criminal charge for marijuana, the state hasn’t decriminalized yet. The current max penalty could include a large fine and several months in jail. It would also mean that, if convicted, a person would have a criminal record. Versus with HB 63, a person would be charged with a citation, much like a traffic ticket, for first-time offenders.