Texas: Austin Voters Vote in Support of Municipal Ballot Initiative Eliminating Local Cannabis Penalties

Voters in the city of Austin, Texas, overwhelmingly approved a local ballot measure, Proposal Adecriminalizing marijuana possession and barring police from executing no-knock warrants.

The wording of the measure states that Austin police officers “shall not issue citations or make misdemeanor arrests for Class A or B misdemeanor possession of marijuana” absent the defendants’ alleged involvement in a misdemeanor case. “Crime-level narcotics”. The police will still be authorized to confiscate cannabis from those who possess it in small quantities.

Austin voters past the proposal by a margin of 85 percent to 15 percent.

Texas does not allow statewide citizen-initiated measures.

“The success of this grassroots initiative confirms that the majority of Texas voters are strongly in favor of relaxing marijuana penalties,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “It is high time that state lawmakers recognize this reality and represent their constituents accordingly by taking legislative action to reform Texas’ archaic and overly punitive marijuana laws.”

NORML’s Director of State Policy Jax James, who resides in Austin, added, “The overwhelming margin this effort has passed is indicative of the broad support that exists among our state’s voters. While these local advances are important, they result in a patchwork of different marijuana law enforcement policies depending on location. It’s time for lawmakers in 2023 to take action to enact statewide reform.

Statewide vote finds that 67% of Texans, including majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans, support legalizing the sale and use of marijuana.

Texas police made approximately 219,000 marijuana-related arrests between 2017 and 2021. Ninety-seven percent of those arrested were charged with possession alone.

Melissa C. Keyes