Austinites to vote on decriminalizing cannabis and ending no-knock warrants

Austin, Texas – Austinites will soon get the chance to determine the fate of marijuana decriminalization and no-knock warrants in their city!

Austinites will vote in May whether or not to decriminalize small amounts of weed (stock image).
Austinites will vote in May whether or not to decriminalize small amounts of weed (stock image).  © 123RF/kirillvasilevcom

Voters will hit the polls to decide on the two measures on May 7, 2022, KUT reported.

The move came after the non-profit Ground Game Texas succeeded in gathering more than 30,000 signatures in support of decriminalizing weed and ending no-knock warrants.

In July 2020, local police announced they would no longer fine or arrest people found in possession of small amounts of marijuana.

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No-knock warrants, seen as particularly controversial following the killings of Breonna Taylor and Atatiana Jefferson, still occur under certain circumstances.

If voters approve the policy changes in May, local law would, in almost all circumstances, prohibit police from entering a home without knocking, announcing their presence, and waiting 15 seconds.

The Austin City Council on Tuesday decided 7-3 to put the questions to a citywide vote, with Council Members Greg Casar, Pio Renteria, and Vanessa Fuentes voting to approve the changes outright.

"I think we could simply adopt the ordinance today. I think the community is likely to adopt it through their vote," Casar said. "I would rather save us the expense."

It is unclear how much such the May election will cost.

Meanwhile, Ground Game Texas' political director Mike Siegel speculated that putting the questions to a vote could mitigate the threat of crackdown from the Republican-controlled state government.

"I guess a majority of the council was concerned about legal risk," he said. "There’s always this dynamic in Austin with Democrats being concerned that if they take action that’s perceived as progressive, [they will face] retribution from state government."

Cover photo: 123RF/kirillvasilevcom

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