The Decriminalization of marijuanaThis week, Texas lawmakers have been debating a bill that would decriminalize marijuana in the state.

House Bill 81 would replace arrests and jail time with a civil fine for possession of small about of marijuana.  If passed the new will would make possession of one ounce of weed or less a non-criminal offense, punishable by a $250 fine.

As it stands now, anyone in Texas who is found in possession of two ounces of marijuana or less faces up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Supporters of the bill who are participating and will testify at the committee hearing include retired Texas District Judge John Delaney; retired Houston Police Department Lt. Jay Hall; Baker Institute fellow Dr. William Martin; Texans for Accountable Government Executive Director Michael Cargill; Texas Young Republican Federation President John Baucum; and Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. The measure is also supported by the League of Women Voters of Texas and the Texas Association of Business.

On the other side of the coin the The Texas Sheriffs Association says it will fight hard to block efforts of decriminalizing possession of marijuana.  Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk has stated to the media, the group, which represents law enforcement officials across the state, will “oppose any effort to decriminalize marijuana or legalize medical marijuana or any of the components of marijuana.”

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety there were 61,749 marijuana possession arrests in Texas in 2015, and there were more than 418,000 from 2010-2015, These arrests and subsequent prosecutions have cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

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Sources: Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Marijuana Policy, Texas Sheriff’s Association,