HB 81

85(R) - 2017
House Criminal Jurisprudence
House Criminal Jurisprudence
Civil Remedies
Juvenile Justice

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Positive
  • Positive
  • Neutral


Joe Moody

Bill Caption

Relating to the civil and criminal penalties for possession of certain small amounts of marihuana and an exception to prosecution for possession of associated drug paraphernalia; creating a criminal offense.

Fiscal Notes

Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB81, Committee Report 1st House, Substituted: a positive impact of $4,266,206 through the biennium ending August 31, 2019.

The bill would make no appropriation but could provide the legal basis for an appropriation of funds to implement the provisions of the bill. 

Bill Analysis

This bill modifies several parts of the code and would make the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil penalty. Current law considers possession of two ounces or less a Class B misdemeanor. HB 81 would make the possession of between one to two ounces a Class B misdemeanor and would establish a civil penalty for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and the associated paraphernalia. 

The civil penalty could not exceed $250 and would not be considered a criminal conviction. In addition, an officer could not make an arrest solely for this civil infraction, but would issue a citation to appear before a court. The citation would be required to notify the person that they would be subject to a Class C misdemeanor if they have been previously assessed a civil penalty. The court may wave the fine for indigent individuals and for those who commit to a substance abuse program or community service. If passed, a violation under this law would be considered delinquent conduct in juvenile courts.

If during a civil proceeding under this bill, the court finds that a person has been assessed a civil penalty one or two previous times, the court would be required to order the person to attend a substance abuse education program, in addition to their civil penalty.

If this bill passes, and if someone has been assessed three previous civil penalties, and if they are found to knowingly be in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, they would be subject to a Class C misdemeanor.  

Vote Recommendation Notes

By making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil infraction the state would free up resources for more serious crimes and would reduce Texas’ burden of overcriminalization thus supporting our principle of limited government. This bill supports our liberty principle of personal responsibility, by holding marijuana users responsible for breaking the law by holding them accountable at a more appropriate level for a low-level nonviolent offense. We support this legislation.

Organizations Supporting

American Civil Liberties Union of Texas

Organizations Opposed

Sheriffs' Association of Texas