House Bill 507 Could Decrease the Penalty for Marijuana Possession

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As other states move to legalize marijuana, a state lawmaker has filed a bill to decrease the penalty for marijuana possession.

State State Representative Joe Moody of El Paso wants to reduce the penalty for those caught with small amounts to a $100 fine.

The debate to legalize the use of marijuana continues to grow nationwide

Four States and Washington D.C. now allow residents to purchase and use the drug legally. And the support in Texas is increasing as well.

A recent poll commissioned by the 'Marijuana Policy Project in Texas' shows 61% of the voters support reducing penalties for the possession of a small amount of marijuana

State Representative Joe Moody from El Paso, a former prosecutor, has filed a bill that would do just that.

House Bill 507 would make possession of less than an ounce punishable by just a $100 fine rather than the current max of a two-thousand dollar fine and six months in jail.

"It's a good government measure that will save taxpayers lots of money and free up law enforcement resources for more serious offenses," says Rep. Moody.

But Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk, a former president and now spokesman for the Sheriff's' Association of Texas says decriminalizing marijuana is a step in the wrong direction.

Sheriff Kirk says, "When you look at the states that have legalized marijuana, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, it all started with the decriminalization of marijuana. It could and will probably lead to the legalization of marijuana if it's left unchallenged."

Kirk says officials in Colorado told him they have not seen the benefits they were hoping for.

"It has not fixed the problems and has not generated the revenues they thought it would."

The Sheriff's Association will continue to fight against any efforts to decriminalize marijuana.

But the final vote will be up to legislators in January when they reconvene at the capital.