No jail time for pot? Texas lawmakers reconsider marijuana punishment

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by Brix Fowler / KENS 5

kens5.com

Posted on March 12, 2013 at 4:37 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 13 at 9:30 AM

Right now in Texas if you are caught with an ounce of marijuana, you'll face up to 180 days in a jail and a fine of $2,000. If House Bill 184, sponsored by Representative Harold Dutton of Houston, becomes a state law you wouldn't get locked up and the fine would be $500.

'It gives us a little ease to know that we're not looking at time if we're caught with marijuana," said Karli Duran of NORML

Duran is the co-founder of NORML, or National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
According to statistics cited by NORML when you factor in police protection, judicial and legal services and corrections related to marijuana the bill for Texans is more than $11 billion annually.

"People could lose a lot potentially for what could happen to them with some small amount. It's not fair to them," said Matt Fernandez, store manager for the Lazy Daze Counterculture.

The Bexar County District Attorney's Office had little to say on the proposed bill. They don't make the laws, they enforce them, they said. 

According to NORML, that enforcement sends around 60,000 Texans to jail every year for marijuana possession.

"Marijuana users are not known to be violent criminals, and that's what our law enforcement needs to be fixating on," said Duran.

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