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Austin voters could officially decriminalize marijuana in May election

A May ballot measure in Austin could officially decriminalize low level marijuana offenses in Austin. (Pixabay)

Austin's May ballot will include an initiative to officially decriminalize marijuana and ban "no knock" warrants after a petition from Austin organization Ground Game Texas gained enough signatures.

The group said Monday that the city clerk has certified the petition. The petition included over 33,000 signatures, 23,000 of which are registered voters.

The new ballot measure calls for bans on ticketing or arresting people with small amounts of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia unless it is related to a bigger charge. It'll also ban "no knock" warrants and stop the city from paying to test substances suspected of being marijuana.

The Austin Police Department ended most arrests and ticketing for personal marijuana possession in July 2020. The measure would solidify it as more Texans and Texas politicians begin to support minimizing marijuana-related drug charges.

On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott said at an Edinburg campaign presser that he wasn't interested in imprisoning Texans on minor pot charges.

"Prison and jail is a place for dangerous criminals who may harm others, and small possession of marijuana is not the type of violation that we want to stockpile jails with," Abbott said.

If passed, Austin will join 27 states and other major cities, like Atlanta, in decriminalizing weed. Eighteen states have fully legalized the non-medical use of the drug. According to a November 2021 survey of 2,067 Texans from the University of Houston and Texas Southern University, 67% of Texans polled believe in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.


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