EL PASO, Texas — State Representative Joe Moody told KFOX14 Texas spends too much money punishing low level drug offenders and wants to decriminalize marijuana.
Moody is proposing a bill that, if approved, would reduce the penalties associated with possessing small amounts of marijuana.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia already passed laws that remove jail time for low-level drug offenses. The Texas legislature is expected to weigh in on the issue during the 2015 legislative session which started Tuesday.
“It is difficult to pass any bill in the Texas legislature,” said Moody. “There are 7,000 that are filed every session. Only a handful of those make it to the finish line.”
Moody said Texas spends $740 million a year to arrest and prosecute low-level drug offenders.
He told KFOX14, “I think it makes a lot of fiscal sense. I think it makes a lot of sense for law enforcement.”
One resident told KFOX14 “I think the penalties could be a little bit more lenient since we’re realizing most of the other states in the country are moving towards
Under Moody’s bill, possessing one ounce of marijuana would result in a $100 fine. Currently, possessing up to two ounces of marijuana could land an offender six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Moody told KFOX14 his bill would consider the violation a civil matter. That way, the offender wouldn’t have a criminal record. Lawmakers will also consider legalizing medical marijuana and the use of recreational marijuana.
Moody said he’s already heard from other lawmakers who support his bill.
“In fact, just sitting on the House floor for the first day, I had three or four Republican members snag me and just say ‘hey, I’ve been getting a lot of emails about your bill.’ ”