Pubdate: Fri, 29 Mar 2013
Source: Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
Copyright: 2013 Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Author: John Delaney


State Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston has filed a bill (HB184) to 
reduce the penalty for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana to 
a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.

Present law makes the punishment for possessing 2 ounces or less of 
marijuana up to 180 days in jail, with a fine up to $2,000. It makes 
sense to create a lower punishment for the lower amount.

Police officers now spend hours processing defendants, who then take 
up space in county jails. Courts have to appoint lawyers for those 
who can't afford one. And resources are diverted from more serious crime.

Under the new law, with the lower punishment, police could issue a 
citation to appear in court instead of making an arrest. The jail 
population would be reduced. The counties would save on 
court-appointed lawyers. And far fewer cases would result in probated 
sentences, lessening the cost of supervising probationers.

Sixteen states have already passed laws similar to this. There's no 
evidence that they increase marijuana use.

Your state representatives need to know your opinion so they don't just guess.

- -- John Delaney,

senior district judge, Bryan
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