Texas has some of our nation’s most outdated marijuana laws. Possession of any usable amount of pot is a Class B misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to 6 months in jail, and a $2,000 fine. In reality most misdemeanor pot defendants get probation. However, Texas makes no distinction between recreational and medicinal pot smokers. All marijuana consumers are criminals in Texas.
I have witnessed the prosecution of the infirm for marijuana possession. It is a horrible practice that degrades our justice system. If prosecutors will not use their discretion to dismiss cases against the sick, then Texas must join the 14 other states that allow the medical use of marijuana.
To that end House Bill 164 was submitted last week. The text of the bill can be viewed here. Notice our state’s peculiar spelling of “marihuana.”
164 would create an affirmative defense to marijuana possession. MM patients would need to show that a doctor recommended marijuana use. If so, patients could avoid conviction, probation, and further incarceration. 164 would still allow the arrest of MM patients, so drug warriors can feel good about that.
From HB 164-
It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (a) that the person possessed the marihuana as a patient of a physician licensed to practice medicine in this state pursuant to the recommendation of that physician for the amelioration of the symptoms or effects of a bona fide medical condition.
It is time Texans acknowledged that medical marijuana patients deserve compassion and protection, not prosecution.
Thanks to the Marijuana Policy Project for highlighting this important piece of legislation.