Weed War: Texas Lawmakers Debating Lower Pot Penalties

Texas
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AUSTIN - The folks down in Austin are debating a bill that reduce the penalty for small amounts of the green goods -- marijuana.

"I believe there should be a lot more leniency. I'd rather people do that than the alcohol, just based on the side effects you have," George Harris said.

Lawmakers took on House Bill 507 Wednesday. If it passes, we're talking no jail time for having less than an ounce.

Folks like Arthur Maccardll say he was caught with just a little bit of pot and ended up in jail.

"It was a little bit more than just two ounces, but overall it would help," Maccardll said.

And plenty of folks would agree.

FBI stats show more than 72,000 were busted for marijuana in the Lone Star State in 2012. And 97% of those were for simple possession.

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"I think the majority of people I represent are people who have had minimal amounts of marijuana," said attorney David Sloane, who also represents DFW NORML.

Sloane says this small change could have a big impact here in Texas.

Yeah, instead of jail time and a criminal record, possessing just a little bit of pot would just be a misdemeanor that'll cost you $100.

"About 90% of the arrests out there are for people possessing usually less than 10 grams and creates a tremendous expense and burden on our criminal justice system on our police, on our court systems," Sloane said.

Looks like we'll have to wait until the smoke clears to find out if this bill passes.

But even Willie Nelson will tell you, this issue has lit up the Lone Star State.

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