Member's Page

Rep.Zwiener, Erin

member image

Representative Erin Zwiener’s Cannabis Decriminalization Bill Passes Texas House 
print page

by: Rep. Zwiener, Erin
04/30/2021

Driftwood, TX — On Wednesday, Representative Zwiener’s (Driftwood) House Bill 441 passed the Texas
House of Representatives.

“This piece of legislation is a step forward in reforming our criminal justice system,” Rep. Zwiener said. “Instead
of overly harsh consequences, I want Texans to be able to move forward from a small mistake without barriers
such as difficulty in getting financial aid or finding a job. The overcriminalization of cannabis possession also
creates an unnecessary financial burden on taxpayers by exacerbating overpopulation in our jails and directing
law enforcement away from violent offenses.”

More than 70,000 people are arrested for low-level cannabis possession each year, accounting for the
majority of all drug arrests in Texas. These individuals are booked into jail, and those who cannot make bail
may stay there until their case is resolved. Furthermore, because the sentence for a Class B misdemeanor
includes possible jail time, counties must hire lawyers to represent defendants who are indigent. This costs
Texas cities and counties hundreds of thousands of dollars every year that could instead be directed towards
more serious offenses.

House Bill 441 would lower the penalty for possession of one ounce or less of cannabis to a Class C
misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 with no possible jail time and no license suspension. Under
current law, possession of two ounces or less of cannabis is a Class B misdemeanor and punishable by up to
180 days imprisonment, a fine of up to $2,000, and up to 180-day license suspension. Law enforcement
would issue a citation, similar to a traffic ticket. This legislation would also establish a deferred dispensation
and expungement process for an individual’s first offense within a 12-month period, so that a small mistake
doesn’t become a permanent record.

Contact: Taylor Bounds

Contact Info

Email

Capitol Address:
District Address:

Room E1.212

P.O. Box 2910

Austin, TX 78768

(512) 463-0647

(512) 463-3573 Fax

225 S Main St. Unit 102

Kyle, Texas 78640