Austin Voters Will Decide on Marijuana Decriminalization Measure

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Voters in Austin, Texas will decide on a measure that would effectively decriminalize cannabis after city lawmakers this week approved the proposal for the ballot in an election to be held in May. The Austin City Council approved the measure, known as the Austin Freedom Act, for the ballot by a vote of 7-3 on Tuesday, January 18. If the ballot measure succeeds at the polls in May, Austin police officers would be barred from arresting or ticketing people for minor marijuana-related offenses including possession of small amounts of cannabis or marijuana paraphernalia, unless a suspect is also accused of a more serious crime. The city would also not be permitted to pay for scientific testing of substances suspected to be marijuana, making prosecution for a cannabis-related crime difficult, if not impossible. Additionally, the proposal would prohibit law enforcement officers from performing no-knock warrants (the police practice of executing search warrants and entering homes without announcing themselves first) in the city. The city council took its action in response to a petition circulated by the progressive political group Ground Game Texas, which is also sponsoring similar efforts in other parts of the state. Last month, activists working with the group submitted the petition with over 30,000 signatures to the Austin city clerk’s office. That’s 10,000 signatures more than the number required to qualify the measure for the May ballot. On January 17, the city clerk verified that the campaign had collected the required 20,000 signatures from registered voters. Mike Siegel, the political director of Ground Game Texas, praised the efforts of activists after the city council voted to include the measure on the ballot for an election this spring. “The City Council’s vote to schedule an election on the Austin Freedom Act is a testament to the incredible work of our…

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Source : Austin Voters Will Decide on Marijuana Decriminalization Measure

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