Texas GOP endorses decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana

Texas GOP endorses decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Getting busted for possession of small amounts of marijuana could soon be like getting a speeding ticket.

The Texas GOP endorses decriminalizing up to one ounce of marijuana. 

"The plank calls for making it a ticket, a $100 fine for one ounce or less and I think that's really trending with the national pulse," said Steve Evans, Lubbock Co. Republican Party Chair.

The party calls for it to be a civil offense, not criminal. Thus meaning no jail time.

"None of us think speeding is legal now, you know we all know and recognize it as against the law and so it would still be against the law it would just be treated in the civil realm rather in the criminal realm," said Jake Syma, Executive Director of Hub City NORML.

Annually anywhere from 60-70,000 Texans are arrested for marijuana. If passed by the Texas Legislature, courts would be freed up and allow the criminal justice system to focus its resource elsewhere.

"I've talked to the Sheriff about how this affects him and really for the most part all the money he's spending is going toward traffickers, it's going toward gang activity, it's going toward meth," Evans said. "They're not going to, I don't think they're really looking at the less than an ounce recreational user, and while I don't support that myself I just don't see it as necessary to throw those people in jail and run them through the court system when we really need to be focusing on large traffickers and the gangs."

In a statement released by Lubbock Sheriff Kelly Rowe, he said "Law Enforcement Officers have situational discretion, when only a minimal user amount of marijuana is discovered, to address the issue with other alternatives without making an arrest. As a result of this, with the Lubbock County Detention Center population at just under 1300 only a very small number, if any, are charged and incarcerated for the lowest grade marijuana offense only. In other words, this offense is normally (seen) filed in addition to other charges as part of the arrest."

It is important to remember this is not law. The legislation must be passed by the Legislature next session. 

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