Yesterday a Texas measure to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and marijuana concentrates was passed by the House of Representatives through its second reading. Today, the House passed the bill through its third and final reading, officially sending it to the Senate.
The final vote on House Bill 218 was 87 to 59. This sends it to the Senate, with passage in that chamber sending it to Governor Greg Abbott for consideration. Bill sponsor State Representative Joe Moody says that Governor Abbott has expressed support for the measure.
If passed into law HB 218 would remove criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana or marijuana concentrates such as hash and oil. Those caught with up to an ounce could still be given a citation of up to $500, but there would be no possibility of arrest or a jail sentence.
The measure would also make it so that the possession of over one ounce of marijuana but no more than two ounces would no longer be an arrestable offense, but it would still be a potential class B misdemeanor that could appear on a person’s criminal record. However, the proposal allows those charges with possessing no more than two ounces to pay a $30 court to have it expunged from their record.
Under current Texas law the possession of even a miniscule amount of marijuana is a punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
In 2019 and 2021 the House passed a similar measure, with both efforts dying in the Senate. Supporters of HB 218, however, feel that the momentum has shifted and their may now be enough support in the Senate to send the bill to Governor Abbott.