Reduce the Penalty for Low-Level Marijuana Possession to a Class C Misdemeanor or Civil Penalty

Policy Background

Currently in Texas, possession of up to two ounces of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine. In 2017, nearly 65,000 people in Texas were arrested for marijuana possession, accounting for the great majority of all drug arrests.1 Each of these people must be arrested and booked into jail by law enforcement – diverting police attention from serious offenses and wasting resources on the punishment of otherwise law-abiding, productive people. Polls show that a majority of Texas’ registered voters endorse legalizing marijuana.2

Proposed Solution

Reduce the penalty for low-level marijuana possession from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class C, fine-only misdemeanor, or make low-level marijuana possession a civil violation, eliminating criminal penalties altogether for small amounts while still holding people accountable through a fine.

Relevant Bills

  • Bill Number: HB 63 [Moody, Collier, White, Dutton, Phelan]
    Bill Caption: Relating to the civil and criminal penalties for possession of certain small amounts of marihuana and an exception to prosecution for possession of associated drug paraphernalia; creating a criminal offense.
    House Hearing Notice: Criminal Jurisprudence, March 4, 2019
    TCJC House Action: Card in support

  • Bill Number: HB 335 [Dutton, Reynolds]
    Bill Caption: Relating to the penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marihuana and eligibility for placement on community supervision or on deferred adjudication community supervision for that offense.

  • Bill Number: HB 371 [Allen]
    Bill Caption: Relating to the prosecution of and penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marihuana.

  • Bill Number: HB 753 [Wu]
    Bill Caption: Relating to the prosecution of and penalties for possession of 0.35 ounces or less of marihuana.

  • Bill Number: HB 1206 [Cole]
    Bill Caption: Relating to the prosecution of and penalties for possession of marihuana.

  • Bill Number: HB 2518 [Toth]
    Bill Caption: Relating to the penalties for the possession of two ounces or less of marihuana.
  • Bill Number: SB 156 [Rodríguez]
    Bill Caption: Relating to the civil and criminal penalties for possession of certain small amounts of marihuana and an exception to prosecution for possession of associated drug paraphernalia; creating a criminal offense.

  • Bill Number: SB 460 [Johnson]
    Bill Caption: Relating to reducing criminal penalties for possession of marihuana.

Other Bills and Resolutions Related to Marijuana and Cannabis

  • Bill Number: HB 122 [Gina Hinojosa, Julie Johnson]
    Bill Caption: Relating to the medical use of marihuana; providing an affirmative defense to prosecution for possession of marihuana.

  • Bill Number: HB 186 [Canales]
    Bill Caption: Relating to the determination of the weight of marihuana and other tetrahydrocannabinols for the purpose of the prosecution and punishment of the offense of possession of those substances.

  • Bill Number: HB 209 [Reynolds, Beckley, Meza]
    Bill Caption: Relating to authorizing the possession, use, cultivation, distribution, transportation, and delivery of medical cannabis for medical use by qualifying patients with certain debilitating medical conditions and the licensing of dispensing organizations and testing facilities; authorizing fees.

  • Bill Number: HB 1187 [Pacheco, Guillen]
    Bill Caption: Relating to prescribing low-THC cannabis to certain patients for compassionate use.

  • Bill Number: HB 1338 [Pacheco, Guillen]
    Bill Caption: Relating to prescribing low-THC cannabis to certain patients for compassionate use.

  • Bill Number: HB 1365 [Lucio III, Larson]
    Bill Caption: Relating to authorizing the possession, use, cultivation, processing, distribution, transportation, and delivery of medical cannabis for medical use by patients with certain debilitating medical conditions and the licensing of dispensing organizations and testing facilities; authorizing a fee.

  • Bill Number: HB 1405 [Thierry, Moody]
    Bill Caption: Relating to the prescription of low-THC cannabis by certain qualified physicians for certain patients diagnosed with a terminal illness.

  • Bill Number: SB 90 [Menéndez]
    Bill Caption: Relating to authorizing the possession, use, cultivation, distribution, transportation, and delivery of medical cannabis for medical use by qualifying patients with certain debilitating medical conditions and the licensing of dispensing organizations and testing facilities; authorizing fees.

  • Bill Number: SB 400 [West]
    Bill Caption: Relating to authorizing the possession, use, cultivation, distribution, transportation, and delivery of medical cannabis for medical use by patients with certain debilitating medical conditions and terminal illnesses and the licensing of dispensing organizations and cannabis testing facilities; authorizing a fee.

  • Bill Number: SB 865 [Watson]
    Bill Caption: Relating to authorizing the possession, use, cultivation, distribution, transportation, and delivery of medical cannabis for medical use by patients with certain qualifying medical conditions and the licensing of medical cannabis dispensing organizations; authorizing fees.
  • Resolution Number: HJR 21 [Reynolds, Beckley, Cole]
    Resolution Caption: Proposing a constitutional amendment to authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis for medical use.

  • Resolution Number: HJR 66 [Howard]
    Resolution Caption: Proposing a constitutional amendment dedicating the net revenue from any tax on the sale or use of cannabis or marijuana to public education.

  • Resolution Number: SJR 7 [Rodríguez]
    Resolution Caption: Proposing a constitutional amendment to authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis for medical use.

  • Resolution Number: SJR 8 [Rodríguez]
    Resolution Caption: Proposing a constitutional amendment to authorize and regulate the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis.