Austin Ballot Measure Would Decriminalize Marijuana, Ban No-Knock Warrants

Voters in Austin will likely see a ballot measure in May to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

The vote would reaffirm a resolution Austin City Council already approved, and what district attorneys in Texas' largest counties have informally adopted.

"Prison and jail is a place for dangerous criminals who may harm others. Small possession of marijuana is not the type of violation that we want to stockpile jails with," Gov. Greg Abbott said when asked about it Monday.

Travis County GOP spokesman Andy Hogue says the party agrees with the governor, but still has reservations about one city essentially legalizing marijuana when it's still against state law.

"There's a lot of drug trafficking issues to be considered. How is it grown? What kind of product is developed?" he asks.

"We're not exactly full marijuana decriminalization state yet, so there's a lot of possibilities that the product people consume may not be fully legal."

The measure pushed by the group Ground Game Texas, would forbid Austin police from ticketing or arresting people for possessing small amounts of marijuana or related paraphernalia — unless the offenses are tied to more severe crimes.

The city also would not pay to test substances suspected to be marijuana

"The group that's pushing this, a radical left group, is already looking at several Central Texas towns like Killeen and Harker Heights, and I believe San Marcos, and trying to use those as test cases to eventually push that issue to the state level," adds Hogue.

If approved by voters, the same marijuana measure would also ban "no-knock" police raids in the city of Austin.

City Council must still vote to formally place it on the ballot.

Austin City Limits Skyline

Photo: Getty Images

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