Texas Lawmakers Consider Decriminalizing Marijuana

AUSTIN, TX (KAUZ) -- Texas lawmakers are discussing a bill that could decriminalize marijuana possession in the state.

The House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee held a hearing on House Bill 81 on Monday.

Under this bill, anyone caught with less than one ounce of marijuana would face a civil penalty, instead of being arrested or thrown in jail.

Under current Texas law, individuals found in possession of less than two 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.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety there were more than 418,000 marijuana possession arrests from 2010 to 2015.

Retired Texas District Court Judge, John Delaney, said each marijuana arrest uses about 2.5 hours of an officer's time.

DPS Sergeant Dan Buesing spoke with us about the current laws in place and how this change might affect law enforcement.

"As state police officer we are required to enforce the laws that are legislature sets and once that law gets out and we are able to follow it and enforce it then we definitely will," said Buesing.

Adrienne Hagler, owner of High Flyer Specialty Store in Wichita Falls, shared her thoughts on if this bill is the next step towards legalizing marijuana in Texas.

Her response via email reads "There is a big difference between a reduction in penalties and legalization"

She goes on to say, the bill makes sense for Texas, both ethically and financially, but the state stills has a ways to go.

Sergeant Buesing said whether this bill passes or not, their job will always be to enforce the law.

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