There’s some good news for marijuana users in the southern part of the U.S. as marijuana decriminalization measures pass in Texas.
In the past, marijuana was often stigmatized. If you were found possessing marijuana, you would get fined and/or imprisoned. This would go down on your legal record making it difficult for you to find a job, be approved for housing, and more.
Thanks to recent research, marijuana is being recognized for the health benefits it provides. As a result, many states are legalizing and decriminalizing it. Texas is one of the states taking action with decriminalization measures.
Read on to find out more about marijuana decriminalization measures pass in Texas.
What are the Marijuana Decriminalization Measures Pass in Texas?
The marijuana decriminalization measures pass in Texas saw cannabis decriminalized in five cities: Denton, Elgin, Harker Heights, Killeen, and San Marcos. This follows a trend of cannabis policy changes. For example, voters in Austin strongly approved marijuana decriminalization measures this past May.
San Antonio may also get the chance to decriminalize marijuana in their city as activists announced they were hoping the measure would place on the ballot in May of 2023.
What are the Rules and Regulations of the New Marijuana Decriminalization Measures Pass in Texas?
The marijuana decriminalization measures pass in Texas change the laws regarding marijuana possession. The amount you can legally possess varies from city to city but is typically between 2-4 ounces.
Cities that passed the measures now have a policy that “Police officers ‘shall not issue citations or make arrests for Class A or Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana offences’ absent defendants’ alleged involvement in a ‘felony level narcotics’ case.
What is Marijuana Decriminalization?
Marijuana decriminalization means it won’t be considered an offense for people to possess marijuana within certain quantity limits.
How Can Marijuana Decriminalization Measures Pass in Texas Help People?
In the past, people faced harsh penalties for marijuana possession. Some had to pay expensive fines that were financially devastating. Others ended up in jail with potentially life-ruining effects.
Now that marijuana decriminalization measures pass in Texas, people can have access to cannabis wellness products without repercussions. It also means governments can allocate funds to more serious legal matters.
Who Opposes These Measures?
Although marijuana decriminalization measures pass in Texas, there are still officials that oppose them.
For example, councilmember Jose Segarra said that he is against the reform measure as it would prevent police from using the odor of marijuana alone as the basis for a search. He is suggesting the local governments amend the ordinance to eliminate that language.
Local officials in Denton have also said they weren’t comfortable with the decriminalization measures. While the Denton government has not stated that it’s planning to repeal the reform, it has challenged key provisions stating the city isn’t authorized to direct police to make prescribed policy changes. However, the mayor and city manager have said that they will continue treating cannabis offenses as low law enforcement priorities.
Mike Siegal, co-founder of the group Ground Game Texas, pushed back at Denton officials saying, “City staff do not have the authority to disregard election results and usurp the will of the voters,” and that they must “ensure that Proposition B is duly enforced immediately.”
Things are also moving slowly in Killeen City where council members have paused on implementing the voter approved ordinance stating that there are legal concerns that need to be sorted out before it is fully approved.
Who is for These Measures?
While some law officials are interfering with the marijuana decriminalization measures pass in Texas, there are plenty of advocates, citizens, and politicians excited to move them forward.
The measures gained approval in all five cities that voted with the following percentages:
- San Marcos: 81% yes
- Elgin: 75% yes
- Denton: 70% yes
- Killeen: 69% yes
- Harker Heights: 64% yes
Additionally, Gov. Greg Abbott has stated that he doesn’t believe people should be incarcerated over low level marijuana possession.
A poll released last year showed that most Texans, including most Republicans, support broad reform to legalize marijuana for adult use. Another survey showed 60% of voters support cannabis legalization for any use while 9 out of 10 voters think it should be legalized for some purpose.
Another poll released in June showed there was a stronger support in Texas for marijuana legalization than the people’s support for Joe Biden and other elected officials.
Republican house speaker Dade Phelan previously stated that he would work to enact criminal justice reform in 2023 and lower penalties for marijuana possession.
Former U.S. rep. Beto O’Rourke, who was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee running against Abbott, has long supported an end to marijuana prohibition and included promise of a reform in his campaign.
Past Marijuana Legislation in Texas
The marijuana decriminalization measures pass in Texas are not the first signs of cannabis legalization in the state. Other drug reforms were introduced but did not advance as quickly as some had hoped.
For example, a bill to expand the state’s medical cannabis program and a study on the therapeutic effects of certain psychedelics for military veterans were enacted.
A platform plank for the decriminalization of marijuana possession was introduced by the Texas Republican Party in 2018 but was later rescinded.
The state’s Supreme Court heard testimony concerning the state ban on manufacturing smokable hemp products in March, the latest development in a long legal battle on the policy which was initially proposed and challenged in 2020.
Marijuana decriminalization measures pass in Texas is a sign of a new beginning. San Antonio will soon have their say. Voters in several states will be deciding whether they want to add similar legislation measures to their ballots as well. Mississippi legalized medical marijuana earlier this year.
We can only wait to see the positive changes these new cannabis legislations bring to the country.