Texas is one of the biggest strongholds for cannabis prohibition in America. The state makes approximately 60,000 arrests for simple possession of marijuana every year. But that might soon change because many of the Lone Star State's law enforcers are sick of making pot busts.
Today, members of the law enforcement community will speak out in favor of House Bill 81, which would decriminalize simple cannabis possession in Texas. So instead of facing arrest, jail time and a criminal record, people caught with an ounce of marijuana or less would only get a fine of up to $250.
Retired Texas District Court Judge John Delaney says that the bill will let law enforcers assign valuable resources to bigger issues facing the state.
“Every year we arrest about 60,000 people in Texas for possession of tiny amounts of marijuana,” Judge Delaney said in a press release. “Each arrest takes about two hours of police time, not to mention the added burden on jails and courts. This diverts resources that could be spent helping victims of violence and serious property crimes. Issuing citations makes more sense. What's more, a marijuana conviction affects a person's ability to work and support a family for the rest of their life. No one wins; all of us lose.”
At 11 AM today, Delaney will appear at the Texas State Capital to hold a press conference alongside law enforcers as well as the bill's co-authors -- Representatives Joe Moody (D - El Paso) and Jason Isaac (R - Dripping Springs).
If passed, the bill would be a watershed moment for Texas, which currently prohibits medical as well as recreational marijuana, hemp and the non-psychoactive cannabis extract CBD.
It's also home to the notorious "checkpoint of the stars" -- a federal inspection station on Interstate 10 that has busted celebrities like Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg and Fiona Apple for cannabis possession. Decriminalization wouldn't stop these busts since the checkpoint is governed by federal law. But moving Texas -- the second most populated state in America -- toward legalization could force the federal government to rethink cannabis prohibition.