By Jimi Devine
Thursday saw a coalition of police officers and judges head to the Texas State Capitol in support of House Bill 81, which would would remove the threat of arrest, jail time, and a criminal record for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine of up to $250.
Currently in Texas, individuals found in possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana can be arrested and given a criminal record, and they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
Joining the officers today was retired Texas District Court Judge John Delaney.
“Every year we arrest about 60,000 people in Texas for possession of tiny amounts of marijuana,” Delaney said. “Each arrest takes about two hours of police time, not to mention the added burden on jails and courts. This diverts resources that could be spent helping victims of violence and serious property crimes.”
Delaney went on to note that issuing citations makes more sense due to the long term repercussions faced by those found guilty of simple possession.
“What’s more, a marijuana conviction affects a person’s ability to work and support a family for the rest of their life,” he said. “No one wins; all of us lose.”