Stephen Carter writes…

Rep. Joe Moody, a Democrat from El Paso, has filed HB 81, which is similar to the legislation he proposed during the 2015 session. His previous bill passed out of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, however it died in the Calendar Committee waiting to be scheduled for a hearing by the full Texas House of Representatives.

HB 81

hb00081i

Currently the penalty for possessing two ounces or less in Texas can lead to a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. It also often results in the suspension of driver’s license, even if no vehicle was involved.

HB 81 would set the maximum fine for possessing an ounce or less of cannabis at $250, and prohibits officers from making an arrest solely for possessing less than an ounce. It also prohibits courts from issuing an arrest warrant over such a matter, or setting bail, except in cases where the person has refused to appear. Any cannabis found is confiscated and held as evidence until the case has been completed, at which time it will be destroyed.

Courts would also have to consider if a person is indigent, and if a defendant is found to not be able to pay the fine, the court shall waive the penalty and may order the person to complete not more than 10 hours of community service.

The fine can also be reduced or waived if the defendant attends drug education classes or completes community service.

Those fined under the new law would not have a conviction on their record, and would also not have the fine be made publicly available. Anyone arrested before the law goes into effect would still be subject to current penalties. If passed, the new law will go into effect on September 1, 2017.

Five other piece of legislation with similar implications were filed as well, including HB58, HB82, SJR17, SJR18, and SB170.

Full Report At: http://txcann.com/texas-250-fine-marijuana-2017/