Texas Marijuana Activists Unveil Decriminalization Ballot Initiative In Austin

MJ moment

A newly established Texas progressive group unveiled a campaign on Wednesday to put an initiative to decriminalize marijuana possession and ban no-knock warrants on the ballot in Austin. Ground Game Texas, a nonprofit led by former Democratic congressional candidates, isn’t exclusively focused on cannabis reform—but it’s made the issue a priority and is addressing it in the first of what’s expected to be many local ballot measures across the state. Austin, as well as Dallas, have already independently enacted law enforcement policy changes aimed at reducing arrests for marijuana-related offenses by issuing citations and summons. The activists’ new plan would take the reform a step further, however. The “Austin Freedom Act” seeks to end arrests and citations for misdemeanor marijuana possession within the city. Also, it says police cannot issue citations for residue or paraphernalia in lieu of a possession charge. The measure would further prohibit the use of city funds to request or test cannabis to determine whether it meets the state’s definition of a lawful product. Hemp is legal in the state, creating complications for law enforcement, as they are now tasked with determining if seized cannabis products are in compliance with state statute. “Marijuana reform is a winning issue and local efforts will drive voter engagement. State lawmakers—Democrats and Republicans—failed us during the legislative session,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told Marijuana Moment. “Maybe this level of political pressure will get their attention and bring them on board with meaningful reform statewide.” In order to qualify for the November 2021 ballot, advocates will need to collect at least 20,000 valid signatures by July 20. They are aiming for at least 25,000 raw submissions to ensure success. A representative said during a press conference on Wednesday—which was held in front of a statue of…

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