Local Texas Lawmakers Officially Place Marijuana Decriminalization Initiative On Lubbock’s May 2024 Ballot

December 7, 2023 · marijuanamoment.net

Lawmakers in Lubbock, Texas have officially approved a resolution to put a local marijuana decriminalization initiative on the ballot next spring after declining to enact on the reform legislatively.

The Lubbock City Council voted on Tuesday to schedule a special election on the issue for May 4, 2024. This comes one month after legislators unanimously rejected the decriminalization proposal that was put on the agenda after activists submitted enough signatures to force its consideration.

The committee behind the marijuana initiative first filed paperwork for the Freedom Act Lubbock ordinance with the city secretary in August. After activists turned in more than 10,000 signatures, officials confirmed that the campaign submitted enough petitions to move ahead in the process earlier this month.

Local lawmakers in Lubbock, which is Texas’s tenth largest city by population, had 30 days to hold a hearing and make a decision as to whether they would enact decriminalization. They did so in November, opting to defeat it and put the issue to voters instead.

One day before the vote to schedule the May 2024 cannabis election, Adam Hernandez, communications chair for the group Lubbock Compact, which helped lead the effort to collect signatures for decriminalization, announced his bid for mayor of Lubbock.

.

Under the committee’s proposal, local police would be prohibited from making arrests or citations to adults in possession of up to four ounces of cannabis, unless there’s a binding state or federal court order against the policy. If that does happen, the initiative says the “City’s policy shall be to make enforcement of Class A and Class B misdemeanor marijuana possession its lowest enforcement priority.”

The text of the measure says that it’s meant to “promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the people of Lubbock.” Enacting the reform is in the interest of “carefully allocating scarce city resources, reducing the risk of discriminatory enforcement practices, and focusing city resources on the highest priority public safety concerns.”

Lubbock would be the second largest city by population in the state to enact the reform. It would join cities including AustinDelton, Elgin, Harker Heights, Killeen and San Marcos that were largely led by Ground Game Texas.

That organization recently released a report that looked at the impacts of those similar marijuana reform efforts. It found that the measures will keep hundreds of people out of jail, even as they have led to blowback from law enforcement in some cities. The initiatives have also driven voter turnout by being on the ballot, the report said.

Another decriminalization measure that went before voters in San Antonio in May was overwhelmingly defeated, but that proposal also included provisions to prevent enforcement of abortion restrictions.

Advocates have faced issues in certain jurisdictions where voters approved decriminalization.

Shortly after voters in Harker Heights approved their measure, the city council overturned the ordinance over concerns that it conflicted with state law. But activists collected signatures for another initiative and successfully repealed the repeal in May.

The Killeen City Council temporarily paused implementation of its local voter-approved ordinance, arguing that there were legal concerns that lawmakers needed to sort through before giving it their approval, which they eventually did. But in April, Bell County filed a lawsuit challenging the policy.

At the state-level this session, the Texas House of Representatives passed a series of bills to decriminalize marijuana, facilitate expungements and allow chronic pain patients to access medical cannabis as an opioid alternative. But they ultimately stalled out in the Senate, which has been a theme for cannabis reform measures in the conservative legislature over several sessions.

The House passed similar cannabis decriminalization proposals during the past two legislative sessions, in 2021 and 2019.

Separately, a Texas Democratic senator brought the issue of marijuana legalization to the Senate floor earlier in May, seeking to attach to an unrelated resolution an amendment that would’ve allowed Texans to vote on ending prohibition at the ballot box. But the symbolic proposal was ultimately shut down. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) agreed to another member’s point of order, deeming the cannabis amendment not germane to the broader legislation.

Nearly three in four Texas voters (72 percent) support decriminalizing marijuana, according to a University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll last year. More than half (55 percent), meanwhile, said they’re in favor of broader legalization. Seventeen percent said it shouldn’t be legal at all.

In March, the same institution similarly showed that a majority of Texas voters feel that the state’s marijuana laws should be “less strict.” (Full Story)

Tags:
Next Post

Virginia Legislature’s changeover spurs hopes for adult-use marijuana sales

When Democrats officially retake full control of the Virginia General Assembly in January, newly sworn-in lawmakers will take with them to Richmond renewed hopes the first state in the South to legalize marijuana possession can finally launch an adult-use market…
Read
Previous Post

Six Governors Push Biden To Ensure Marijuana Is Rescheduled By The End Of This Year

The governors of six U.S. states—Colorado, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Louisiana—sent a letter to President Joe Biden (D) on Tuesday urging the administration to reschedule marijuana to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act by the end…
Read
Random Post

SAFE Banking Act's Odds May Have Just Increased

When it rains, it pours. And sometimes that’s a good thing. On the heels of the “historic” news last week that the Biden administration is poised to reschedule marijuana, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown told reporters that he believes the SAFE…
Read
Random Post

Massachusetts Campaign Quietly Takes First Step To Put Psychedelics Reform On The 2024 Ballot

Political strategists in Massachusetts have quietly filed paperwork to put a therapeutic psychedelics legalization initiative on the state’s 2024 ballot. The newly formed Massachusetts for Mental Health Options (MMHO) committee submitted initial documents to the state Office of Campaign and…
Read
Random Post

Nevada Lawmakers Pass Bill To Create Psychedelics Working Group, Sending It To Governor

The Nevada legislature has given final approval to a bill to create a new working group to study psychedelics and develop a plan to allow regulated access for therapeutic purposes. It now heads to the governor’s desk. The Assembly passed…
Read
Random Post

Thai Health Minister Predicts Recreational Cannabis Ban By December

Thailand’s health minister said that lawmakers are aiming to make adult-use cannabis illegal again by the end of the year, Reuters reports. Under recently proposed legislation, it would be illegal to use cannabis recreationally but cannabis use for medicinal purposes would remain legal. People…
Read