Austin to Put Cannabis Decriminalization Question to Voters

Austin voters will get to decide during the upcoming May election whether to stop the enforcement of low-level cannabis possession charges and ban no-knock warrants by police.

Full story after the jump.

Austin, Texas residents in May will vote on eliminating low-level cannabis crime enforcement in its city limits and banning the practice of no-knock warrants by police, following final approval by the city council on Tuesday, KVUE reports. If approved, Austin would be the first city in the Lonestar State to codify the reforms.

The final vote was 7-3.

Mike Siegel, political director at Ground Game Texas, which led the ballot initiative, said the proposals will give Austin residents “the ability to make lasting change to … antiquated and racist criminal justice laws.”

“With successful campaigns like these, Ground Game Texas will continue to empower and excite communities around progressive change – and deliver for the marginalized communities that too often get left behind.” Siegal via KVUE

Although the Austin Police Department officially ended most arrests and ticketing for personal cannabis possession in July 2020, Siegal has said that the initiative would codify that “current informal policy.”

When the department announced the reforms, a memo from then-chief Brian Manley stated that the APD would no longer cite or arrest individuals with sufficient identification for Class A or Class B misdemeanor cannabis possess offenses, “unless there is an immediate threat to a person’s safety or doing so is part of the investigation of a high priority, felony-level narcotics case or the investigation of a violent felony,” according to KVUE.

Mano Amiga — an organization based in San Marcos, Texas — is currently gathering signatures for its own cannabis decriminalization petition.

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