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The Austin police chief said officers will no longer arrest or ticket for low level pot offenses.

Six months after the Austin City Council passed a resolution ordering him to do so, police chief Brian Manley announced that officers would not be making arrests or writing tickets for low-level and non-violent marijuana offenses.


"APD will no longer cite or arrest individuals with sufficient identification for Class A or Class B misdemeanor 'possession of marijuana' offenses, unless there is an immediate threat to a person's safety or doing so as part of the investigation of a high priority, felony-level narcotics case or the investigation of a violent felony," according to a memo from Manley to Mayor Steve Adler and City Council shared by Council Member Greg Casar.

The City Council approved the resolution—effectively ending the practice—in defiance of state leaders, in January. While the city did not outrightly ban the police from writing tickets or making arrests, the city voted to no longer pay for marijuana testing except in case of high-priority felonies, making it near impossible to achieve a conviction in the cases.

But Manley did not follow their orders, saying possession of marijuana was still illegal at the state level.

"At this point, nothing will change," Manley said in January. "We will handle it as we have."

Testing became crucial after the state passed a bill legalizing hemp, a non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana that still contains a minute amount of THC. As a result, law enforcement and prosecutors around the state would need to test any substances found to ensure it was illegal marijuana and not legal hemp.

As the city moved to effectively decriminalize marijuana over the last year, council members and advocates in support of the measure often cited that fact that Black Austin residents were much more likely to be arrested for possession, despite equivalent use across races—a trend that has gone on for years.

"This victory is a small step compared to the transformational change that we must make this summer to our City's budget and policing practices," Casar tweeted Thursday afternoon.

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