Needless to say, Texas has always been a bit of a loner when it comes to marijuana legalization. In the wake of other conservative states like Oklahoma, Arkansas, and North Dakota making strong cases for the plant, Texas has continued to face challenges in the pot debate. Interestingly, unlike other legal states, the Lone Star State does not allow citizen initiatives, meaning lawmakers must make final decisions in every arena. However, this could work to the state’s benefit in the marijuana debate thanks to the initiative of one lawmaker. Recently, State Representative Joe Moody introduced a bill to the Texas House of Representatives. Titled House Bill 63, the new legislation would (if passed) decriminalize marijuana possession and reduce the offense to a civil penalty, resulting in a fine of $250. So what could this mean for the second biggest state in the U.S.? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
Back in June, at the Republican Party of Texas, officials approved a program that involved the legalization of marijuana and the reform of existing laws. According to the official party stance, officials want cannabis possession to be a civil offense (not a criminal offense) that will result in a $100 fine, not imprisonment. Even more interesting, Republicans also argued that Congress should remove the drug from the Schedule-I ranking.
Likewise, Heather Fazio (coalition coordinator for Texans for Responsible Marijuana) argued that prohibition is not a positive move for Texas and agreed with delegates that Congress should take extra action to make sure the drug is not a Schedule-I substance.
What about the Governor?
Since the beginning of his term in 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott indicated that he would support the movement to decriminalize marijuana, although his position on the drug (overall) has not changed. Overall, Governor Abbott has expressed how he does not want to see dozens of people imprisoned for possession of the plant but has stressed that lobbyists for marijuana legalization have not made a convincing case. Nevertheless, his decision to support House Bill 63 is compelling.
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