Texas House of Representatives Vote to Decriminalize Marijuana

A bill that effectively decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana was approved on Monday by the Texas House of Representatives. Under the measure, House Bill 63, a fine of up to $500 would be imposed for possession of one ounce or less of cannabis, rather than jail time. HB 63 was passed by the House with a vote of 98-43 and must be approved by the body with a second vote, a step usually viewed as a formality, before heading to the state Senate.

The bill changes possession of up to one ounce of marijuana from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class C misdemeanor. An earlier version of the bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Joe Moody would have classified possessing small amounts of cannabis as a civil infraction, but Moody amended the measure on the House floor to achieve more support.

“I’m not going to sacrifice the good for the perfect. If this is what we can do, then this is what we must do,” Moody said. “We can’t keep hauling 75,000 Texans to jail every year.”

Moody responded to criticism that the bill had been “watered down” by telling his colleagues in the House that he

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