Advocate HB 63 to reduce marijuana possession penalties for students

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Illustration by Jaden Edison.

Kindalynn Ortega

LiveScience found the number of students in college that smoke marijuana either daily or on a regular basis has been the highest in today’s society in comparison to the past three decades. While it is no surprise to anyone that college students smoke marijuana, the penalties students face when they are caught by law enforcement with marijuana in their possession is a widespread concern.

The current punishment for being caught with even less than two ounces of marijuana in your possession is at least 180 days in jail and a fee that goes up to $2,000. This punishment is harsh and has detrimental impacts on people’s lives.

House Bill 63 would eliminate the threat of arrest, jail time and a person having less than an ounce in their possession would not obtain a criminal record.House Bill 63 was introduced by Joseph Moody, chairman of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, in November of 2018.

Currently, if someone is caught with two ounces of marijuana or less, they face a misdemeanor charge. This charge remains on their criminal record, hindering many opportunities they could have had prior to being convicted. Job opportunities, college admissions and their licenses will be at risk as a result of being charged.

It is not fair that a person’s job opportunities are threatened for such an insignificant amount of marijuana. Having limited career options does not only affect the lives of whoever got caught, but their families’ lives as well. It is difficult to provide for yourself and others when the job opportunities you have are limited and the jobs that you can get do not pay much.

Receiving a misdemeanor charge for marijuana possession has nothing to do with a person’s work abilities. It does not mean they will treat customers with any less respect if they are working in the public services sector or they will perform worse on tasks if they wish to pursue a STEM-based career.

A misdemeanor can result in either a license suspension or having it revoked altogether. If a person is not driving while high, the suspension or revoking of their license is unnecessary. This makes transportation even more of a hassle when many people have jobs and classes to attend.

A driver’s license is not the only license that can be affected by this charge. A misdemeanor can linger onto a person’s professional license as well, further hindering well-respected careers such as government office positions, working in schools and medical positions to name a few.

The college admissions process is competitive and students from all different backgrounds must participate in it to have a spot in a university. With that being said, the chances of a student being admitted while having a criminal record are narrower in comparison to those that have clean records.

It is understandable that universities would not want someone with a misdemeanor attending their institution, however, this charge has nothing to do with how well students will perform academically or in social environments. A student that is charged with possession is no less capable of succeeding in school than other students and the charge should not be seen as a warning that they will sell drugs to other students.

House Bill 63 should be passed to protect the future of students and their careers. To have an influence on the passing of this bill, you can visit www.p2a.co/u36sN4X to email Texas State Legislatures in support of House Bill 63.

– Kindalynn Ortega is a mass communications freshman