The Texas House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
The bill passed without debate on both the second and third reading.
Before the start of business on Thursday, supporters took to the House gallery and were chanting, “No more drug war!” before DPS officers escorted them out of the chamber.
House Bill 218 was approved 87-59 on its third reading.
The breakdown of the vote showed 23 Republicans and every Democrat voted for the bill. Notably, many rural Republicans supported the bill. Additionally, Rep. Frederick Frazier, a former police officer, supported the bill as well.
The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it will likely face an uphill battle.
The House has passed marijuana bills in two previous legislative sessions, but they have died in the Senate.
The 2023 legislation was sponsored by state Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, and passed the House’s Criminal Jurisprudence Committee earlier this month.
Moody’s bill would remove criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce.
The Dallas Express reached out to Moody for comment.
“Passing HB 218 out of the House with bipartisan support is a crucial step towards making smarter, fairer policy around cannabis in Texas,” Moody said.
“The bill still has a long way to go through the Senate to make it to Governor Abbott’s desk, but the message today is clear: a diverse array of legislators have joined the overwhelming majority of Texans who know that we can do better on cannabis than we’re doing now.”
Under current Texas law, possession of up to two ounces is a Class B misdemeanor. Possession of two to four ounces is a Class A misdemeanor that comes with a one-year jail term and a $4,000 fine. Possession of more than four ounces of marijuana is a felony.
“Locking someone up for a small amount of marijuana provides no benefit to taxpayers, law enforcement, or individuals who are productive citizens,” state Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park), a joint-author of the bill, said.
“By removing overly strict laws, we can focus on real dangers in our criminal justice system.”