The Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton (R), is planning to sue five cities (Austin, San Marcos, Killeen, Elgin, and Denton) over their recent marijuana decriminalization policies.
Each city passed cannabis decriminalization through voting over the last one to three years, despite marijuana still being an illegal substance in Texas. Paxton says that this “violates Texas laws concerning marijuana possession and distribution.” He also stated in a press release, “This unconstitutional action by municipalities demonstrates why Texas must have a law to ‘follow the law.’ It’s quite simple: the legislature passes every law after a full debate on the issues, and we don’t allow cities the ability to create anarchy by picking and choosing the laws they enforce.”
To many Texans, this seems like a blatant attempt at bullying its more left-leaning cities. None of the cities has legalized cannabis, instead asking law enforcement officers to deprioritize convictions over personal possession of small amounts of marijuana.
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The state’s constitution bans individual cities from passing laws that contradict state policy. However, this has not stopped pro-cannabis activists in Texas from continuing to work toward marijuana decriminalization in cities including Dallas, Lockhart, and Lubbock. Unfortunately, Harker Heights repealed its recent cannabis decriminalization bill in the wake of the lawsuit.
The director of Ground Game Texas, a pro-cannabis activist group, said in a statement: “In each of the cities sued, a supermajority of voters adopted a policy to deprioritize marijuana enforcement in order to reduce racially-biased law enforcement outcomes and save scarce public resources for higher priority public safety needs.” Ground Game Texas has also filed a lawsuit against the city of Harker Heights for going against the wishes of its voters.
Texans are overwhelmingly in support of legalizing cannabis, highlighting how outdated the policies and laws put in place by the state truly are. Although some people can access medical marijuana in the state for very specific purposes, most residents find themselves turning to other sources to obtain cannabis.
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