When the State of Texas legalized hemp last year, many prosecutors, including those in Travis County, said they’d stop prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana charges, unless they had a lab reports on THC levels.
THC is what distinguishes marijuana from legal hemp. Hemp is federally legal to buy and possess and most states have joined, including Texas.
After the hemp law passed, prosecutors filed marijuana charges only four times from July to November last year. But the Austin Police Department (APD) has continued to hand out tickets, despite cities like Round Rock stopping its cite-and-release program.
A new proposal by the Austin City Council would prevent the city from spending that money on THC testing
Next week, the Austin City Council will consider a bill that could decriminalize marijuana in small amounts. With this proposal, arrests and citations for possession could be eliminated. Saving valuable resources to pursue more pressing matters in the city. The resolution was filed by Austin City Council Member Greg Casar and would eliminate police enforcement and penalties for misdemeanor marijuana possession unless there’s an immediate threat to someone’s safety.
Jimmy Flannigan, District 6 Council member, says “This is so low on the totem pole, and is so unnecessary to do.” In 2019, more than 1000 cases were filed statewide.
He and others, like Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, Greg Casar an Natasha Harper-Madison also support the bill. With the support of two other member, the bill should have what it needs to pass.
The Austin’s Mayor has said “that we can not ignore the trend to decriminalize low level personal marijuana consumption.” It’s not fair that you can end up in jail in some parts of the country and not in others. By putting low-level offenders in jail contributes to housing, homelessness and job challenges.
Austin is one of the most progressive cities in the state, and in 2007 Austin city officials authorized law enforcement to cite, rather than arrest, people for low-level marijuana cases. That was over 10 years ago.
It’s time to legalize the consumption of all cannabis in Texas, and federally.
Email your the Austin City Council with your support of this proposition. There has been talk about making it illegal to buy and sell hemp flower in Texas. This could ensure that the purchase of hemp flower is not taken away from us as well.