LUBBOCK, Texas — In an 88-40 vote, the Texas House approved a bill that would reduce penalties for a small possession of marijuana on Friday. HB 411 would reduce the penalty of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana to a Class C misdemeanor.
A Class C misdemeanor is a penalty someone might receive if they were to receive a speeding ticket.
“Less than two ounces is a Class B misdemeanor,” the Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney, Sunshine Stanek, said about current state law.
Stanek said under current state law, a Class B misdemeanor might have the consequences of less than six months in jail, up to a $2,000 fine, or both.
“Here in our office, we look at each case individually,” Stanek said.
Stanek said if someone is a first time offender and has no criminal record, the may be sent to a diversion program.
“Where they can receive treatment or counseling or whatever they may need,” Stanek said.
The District Attorney said there are few people in jail solely on small possession charges. She said the offenders will usually bond out of jail. She also said folks in jail facing possession charges are usually facing additional charges.
Stanek said marijuana is a problem in Lubbock.
“Drugs drive crime in this community and you’ve heard the police chief talk about a number of murders that the root of those murders were drug rips,” Stanek said. “Some of those cases have involved marijuana and so drugs in general are a problem but I would certainly include marijuana.”
Stanek said it is hard to say how this proposed legislation will affect the Hub City, but sad it is her job to uphold the law.
The bill would also offer many Texans with minor marijuana possession and other similar crimes on their record to eventually have them removed.