April 16, 2015
Austin, TX – Three Republican lawmakers, Representatives David Simpson (R-Longview), Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), and Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), signed on to co-author House Bill 507, filed by Representative Joe Moody (D-El Paso), alongside another 33 Democratic co-authors and 2 Democratic authors. House Bill 507 would change 0-1 ounce of marijuana possession from a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $2,000 in fines, to a civil penalty with a fine of $250 and no criminal conviction. The Criminal Jurisprudence Committee heard testimony on HB 507 and other marijuana-related bills on April 8, and all were left pending.
Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (RAMP) testified in favor of HB 507, and applauds Representatives Simpson, Stickland, and Hughes for their dedication to fiscal responsibility and doing what works.
“A number of states, including Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, and North Carolina, changed to a civil penalty system for small marijuana possession offenses in the 1970’s, and several more states have followed suit in the past decade. When comparing data of marijuana use rates, Texas has nothing to show – not lowered use or lowered crime – for the tens of thousands of marijuana arrests and an estimated $250 to $700 million in law enforcement and criminal justice budgets employed each year,” said Zoe Russell, Assistant Executive Director of RAMP. “Reps. Simpson, Stickland, and Hughes are willing to look at hard data and determine that criminal convictions for marijuana don’t help our youth or public safety.”