Austin, known to be one of the more less restrictive places in Texas, is now considering decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of cannabis.
According to CBS 7, The Austin City Council will vote on a proposal later this month to “virtually end arrests and fines” for those in possession of small amounts of cannabis. If this passes, police in Austin will be directed to stop arresting folks for low-level cannabis possession. This new consideration comes after the state has faced trouble in determining whether substances are hemp or cannabis without lab tests, which is expensive and difficult to get for small amounts of cannabis.
“If there’s no intent to sell or distribute, we’re not going to mess with it,” said Greg Casar, who sponsored the proposal. “Most Texas voters want to see marijuana legalized. Most Texas voters don’t want to see counties or cities dedicating extra resources to marijuana cases. We’re simply doing what we believe is right given the situation.”
In order for this measure to pass later this month, two more members of the council will need to vote in favor of the resolution. If it does get approved on Jan. 23, the city will have until May 1 to stop arresting low-level offenders, and they’ll take this time to train police officers on how to deal with offenses.
This wouldn’t be an entirely new move for Austin. Over the past few years, police in the city have started merely issuing tickets for those who possess small amounts of cannabis. Offenders can then appear in court when their time comes.
Cannabis prosecution in Texas has already begun to drop because of the inability of law enforcement to tell cannabis containing THC from hemp (and the state decided to expand its medical cannabis program last year). Decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis is the next logical step for the liberal Texas city.