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Texas marijuana advocates call for lighter punishments for having a small amount of pot

Right now possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana is worthy of a $2,000 fine and could land you 180 days in jail.

AUSTIN, Texas — In states like California and Colorado, marijuana is legal for recreational use. For states like Louisiana, Oklahoma or New Mexico, medicinal marijuana is legal. In Texas, pot is not legal at all, but you can use medicinal CBD oil if prescribed.

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Right now in the state of Texas, possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana is worthy of a $2,000 fine or could land you 180 days in jail. 

House Bill 63 would change that, decriminalizing possession of an ounce or less of pot and making it a civil offense that'll get you a $250 fine -- not much more than an average speeding ticket.

At a public hearing for the bill Monday, people made their voices heard over the issue.

Some say the law right now unnecessarily fills jail and has the potential to almost ruin lives.

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Jax Finkel is the executive director of Texas NORML, an advocacy group for the reform of marijuana laws.

She told KVUE, "It's a real problem that saddles young people in particular with a criminal record, which can affect their ability to get grants, housing. It can also affect your ability to have a concealed handgun license ... We really think that it's the law that's the problem here, not the plant."

Sydney Sigler is a Waco resident who was arrested in 2013 for having 0.1 ounce of marijuana on her. She told KVUE over FaceTime she had a clean record before that, but after being arrested to this day she has to ask permission to leave McKlennan County, can't go to bars or drink alcohol and is drug tested regularly.

RELATED: Mom on probation lives under strict rules. Her crime? .1 ounce of marijuana

She says she hopes this bill is passed.

"I'm very much hopeful that it will be approved and its something that definitely needs to happen. People like me don't need to be arrested or go to jail over possession of marijuana. It does not make you a criminal."

But not everyone agrees the law should change. Jimmy Perdue, Police Chief of North Richland Hills, spoke at the public hearing for the bill. He said in a statement, "Decriminalizing or legalizing [marijuana] is just something that the state of Texas should not accept."

After three hours of the hearing Monday, the committee left the bill pending. There's no word on when a vote will be taken on it.

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