Early voting kicked off in Austin, Texas on April 25, giving voters a chance to decide on a local initiative to decriminalize marijuana and ban “no-knock” warrants by police.
The Austin City Council approved a resolution to put the reform measure on the local ballot after activists with Ground Game Texas turned in enough signatures to qualify the initiative in January.
Now the proposal is officially in voters’ hands, with in-person early voting open until May 3. For those who don’t take advantage of that option, election day is on May 7.
Here’s the text that voters will see on the ballot for Proposition A: “Shall an initiative ordinance be approved to (1) eliminate enforcement of low-level marijuana offenses and (2) ban the use of ‘no knock’ warrants by Austin police?”
Activists turned in more than 33,000 signatures for the measure—about 10,000 more than were required to qualify.
On the day the initiative was certified, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said that he doesn’t believe people should be incarcerated over low-level marijuana possession.
The measure seeks to end arrests and citations for misdemeanor marijuana possession … it says police cannot issue citations for residue or “paraphernalia” in lieu of a possession charge.
While Austin, like other Texas cities such as Dallas, has already independently enacted law enforcement policy changes aimed at reducing cannabis-related arrests by issuing citations and summonses, the ordinance would go a step further.
The measure seeks to end arrests and citations for misdemeanor marijuana possession within Texas’s capital city. Also, it says police cannot issue citations for residue or “paraphernalia” in lieu of a possession charge.
Ground Game Texas previously attempted to place the initiative on the November 2021 ballot, but did not meet the signature turn-in deadline and shifted its attention to 2022.
The group is also behind campaigns to put marijuana decriminalization on local ballots in Killeen and Harker Heights, and activists in San Marcos began a similar campaign in September. Last week, organizers in Denton announced that they believe they have enough signatures to qualify a cannabis reform measure.
Photograph by debannja via Pixabay