House Bill 441, which would decriminalize a specific amount of marijuana, has been passed by the Texas House of Representatives. It now faces the state Senate, where just two years ago a similar bill was stuck down.
Marijuana Legislation in Texas
Texas is starting to catch up to other states that have decriminalized marijuana. Well, hopefully. On Friday of last week the Texas House of Representatives passed HB 441 (with a vote of 88 to 40) which would essentially decriminalize a small amount of cannabis. The bill would make the possession of up to one ounce of pot a Class ‘C’ Misdemeanor, which means no jail time. This bill also prevents police from arresting anyone with less than one ounce.
A 2020 report from the American Civil Liberties Union showed that African Americans in Texas were 2.6 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession in 2018 compared to Whites, even though both groups use the drug similarly nationwide. In both 2018 and 2019, around 30% of those arrested for marijuana possession in Texas were African American despite making up only 12% of the population. This problem is seen throughout the US, but bills like this are definitely a step in the right direction.
Heather Fazio, president of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy said, “Texas cannabis bills are on the move and it’s exciting to see bipartisan support for HB 441, which has been carefully crafted to eliminate the threat of arrest and jail time for marijuana possession. Advocates are already gearing up for action in the Senate. If given a fair shot, HB 441 could earn enough support to pass into law.” We appreciate all marijuana enthusiasts who promote cannabis activism throughout the country.
The Hardships With Marijuana Legalization in Texas
The biggest challenge ahead of HB 441 is the Senate vote. As previously stated, there was a similar bill that passed the House in 2019 but did not pass the Senate. This was because of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), who presides over the Senate. He has continued to kill efforts to reform cannabis laws in the state, raising the question, “Will this pass in the Senate?”
The Lt. Governor was once quoted as saying, “We’re always listening on the health issues, but we’re not going to turn this into California, where anybody can get a slip from the doctor and go down to some retail store and say, ‘You know, I got a headache today so I need marijuana,’ because that’s just a veil for legalizing it for recreational use.” And it doesn’t seem his mind has changed much on the issue, but we can certainly hope he’ll come around.
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