Voters in the city of Austin, Texas have overwhelmingly approved a local ballot measure, Proposition A, depenalizing marijuana possession and prohibiting police from executing ‘no knock’ warrants.
The language of the measure stipulates that Austin police officers “shall not issue citations or make arrests for Class A or Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana offenses” absent defendants’ alleged involvement in a “felony level narcotics” case. Police will still permitted to confiscate cannabis from those who possess it in small quantities.
Austin voters passed the proposition by a margin of 85 percent to 15 percent.
Texas does not allow for statewide, citizen-initiated measures.
“The success of this local initiative affirms that the majority of Texas voters are solidly in favor of relaxing marijuana penalties,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “It is high time that state lawmakers recognized this reality and represented their constituents accordingly by taking legislative action to reform Texas’ archaic and overly punitive marijuana laws.”
NORML’s State Policies Manager Jax James, who resides in Austin, added: “The overwhelming margin that this effort passed by is indicative of the broad support that exists among voters in our state. While these local advancements are important, they result in a patchwork of differing marijuana enforcement policies based on location. It is time for lawmakers in 2023 to take steps to enact statewide reform.”
Statewide polling finds that 67 percent of Texans, including majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, support legalizing the sale and use of marijuana.
Texas police made an estimated 219,000 marijuana-related arrests between 2017 and 2021. Ninety-seven percent of those arrested were charged with possession only.