State of Texas now considering marijuana decriminalization

For the last year, Crystal has been waiting to be prosecuted for possession of marijuana after being arrested by Corpus Christi police. The amount? Two grams.

CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII NEWS) - For the last year, Crystal has been waiting to be prosecuted for possession of marijuana after being arrested by Corpus Christi police. The amount? Two grams.

The arrest landed Crystal in a bunch of legal trouble and cost her a great deal of money and pain; and as far as money goes, it may have cost taxpayers a lot more.

But now, there is an effort in Texas to legalize, or at least decriminalize, marijuana.

Voters in several other states managed to get that done last week, and now Texas lawmakers will decide when they reconvene in January.

Decriminalizing the drug for those possessing one ounce or less is the focus of the bill, and as Kiii News Anchor Rudy Trevino reports, supporters say if passed it could save taxpayers a lot of money.

Crystal's arrest may be a prime example of why supporters believe that. The two grams of marijuana she had in her possession landed her in police custody and cost her a great deal of money.

"I now have an arrest record that is open to the public," she said.

"No reason we need to waste officers' time," defense attorney Kyle Hoelscher said. "There's no reason we need to waste jail space."

Hoelscher defends people like Crystal who have been charged with minor marijuana possesion, and he said the cost of prosecuting people arrested for minor possesion is high.

"$10,000 per marijuana arrest to the taxpayer," Hoelscher said. "That has nothing to do with the actual person and their costs through probation or fines. That is from arrest through prosecution."

The proposed bill would make possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a non-criminal offense punishable by a fine of $250. Right now, possesion of two ounces or less will get you a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail.

"I think there is some value to decriminalization," said Amy Granberry, the CEO of Charlie's Place, a local rehabilitation facility.

Opponents of marijuana reform consider weed a gateway drug. Granberry said the bill, if passed, may have a positive effect in the rehabilitation of drug users.

"I would hope that legislators would consider a piece of any legislation dealing with the criminal penalties to also make treatment available and make help available to those who want it," Granberry said.

Sadly, even if the bill were to pass, it would be of no use for people like Crystal who now have a record, paid fines and the have to deal with the stigma of having been arrested for possesion of an ounce of marijuana or less.

(© 2016 KIII)


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