Last week, the House in the state of Texas approved a measure that would decrease the criminal penalty for the possession of small amounts of cannabis, in addition to affording residents in the state who have been charged with cannabis possession the chance to expunge it from their records.
House Bill 441 applies to the possession of an ounce or less of cannabis.
Presently though, possessing up to two ounces of cannabis, which is equivalent to about 57 grams, is classified as a class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a $2,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
The bill, which was drawn up by State Rep. Erin Zwiener, will re-classify the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana as a class C misdemeanor, whose punishment doesn’t include jail time. Additionally, law enforcement in the state will not be permitted to arrest individuals who are in possession of an ounce or less of marijuana.
During an interview with a nonprofit media outlet, Zwiener attributed much of the credit for reaching a compromise to State Rep. Joe Moody, who had suggested penalty reductions in the previous session. Zwiener added that while Gov. Abbott had made no commitment to sign the proposal if it reached his desk, she was encouraged by his comments, which supported the re-classification of punishments to a class C misdemeanor.
Zwiener observed that the real challenge would be getting the bill through the Senate. She explained that in 2019, after the House had approved a bill tabled by Moody, which was similar to this bill, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had opposed it, which led to its stalling.
Some law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in the state have already halted the arrest and prosecution of first offenders found in possession of small amounts of cannabis. A poll that was conducted earlier this year by the University of Texas discovered that 60% of voters in the state believe that the possession of any amount of cannabis should be legal.
House Bill 411 is an attempt to reduce the criminal penalty across the state for the possession of cannabis. Of the 10 measures tabled in the legislature to address possession, only a single other proposal has made it past the committee phase.
That bill, House Bill 09, was drawn up by Rep. Steve Toth and would eliminate the suspension of an individual’s driver’s license and their arrest for being in possession of cannabis, while also bringing the punishment down to a fine. Toth revealed that while he didn’t support the legalization or criminalization of cannabis, the racial disparity in cannabis arrests needed to be addressed.
As Texas moves to ease some of its strictest policies on marijuana, companies operating in the cannabis space, including XPhyto Therapeutics Inc. (CSE: XPHY) (OTCQB: XPHYF) (FSE: 4XT), have advanced to the level of coming up with drug formulations from cannabis compounds. These compounds are in various stages of development, after which they may become widely available once the FDA gives its nod of approval.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to XPhyto Therapeutics Corp. (CSE: XPHY) (OTCQB: XPHYF) (FSE: 4XT) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/XPHYF
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