Texas Lawmaker Says Conservatives Support His Plan to Decriminalize Small Amounts of Pot

A state rep wants to turn small pot possession cases into something more like a parking violation than a drug charge.

By Laura RiceJanuary 9, 2015 11:28 am

Under Texas Representative Joe Moody (D-El Paso) proposal, someone caught with up to an ounce of weed would get a $100 ticket. Right now, that’s punishable by up to a $2,000 fine and six months in jail.

The big difference between Moody’s bill and what’s been proposed by Texas lawmakers in the past is that he’s not just dropping charges down to a Class C Misdemeanor, he’s making it a civil offense instead of a criminal one.

Rep. Moody sat down with Texas Standard’s David Brown to talk about his bill.

On the Impact Decriminalizing Small Amounts of Pot Might Have on Mexican Drug Cartels:

“A lot of what they do circulates around this type of trade. But they have diversified. This criminal network diversified into extortion, into kidnapping so that criminal enterprise is not one that’s going to pickup and get out of the game based on a policy we have.”

On Whether This is a Step Toward Fully Decriminalizing Marijuana in Texas:

“I don’t know that the political (will) exists to do that today… I think there is a very significant discussion and some momentum behind the ideas like civil penalty or a medical marijuana bill that’s drafted in the right way.”

On Conservative Support for His Bill:

“I think there are a lot of Conservative principles that really run right in line with changing the way we do things. I think if you’re a fiscal conservative, you’re talking about somewhere in the neighborhood of $750 million a year is spent in Texas on arrest and prosecution for these types of minor drug offenses.”

Law Enforcement Response

The Sheriffs’ Association of Texas is made up of local sheriffs from across the state. Jackson County Sheriff A.J. Louderback is the association’s president. He says sheriffs agreed last year to back a resolution “opposing the legalization of the use, possession, cultivation, delivery, and sale of marijuana.”

“We all are committed and united as being against this type of legislation here in Texas. If you don’t strongly oppose this kind of approach that are going to try to decriminalize this or minimize the crime to a point where it’s essentially legal. Well, there’s a saying about the camel’s nose underneath the tent and it just doesn’t stop at that point in time.”

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