This could be a big year for Texas, as there are currently five different decriminalization actions on November ballots from five different cities. It seems that although progress is happening slowly, this will be a big year for decriminalization across the super-sized nation.
Last week activists in Harker Heights with the progressive group land texas game They announced that they collected enough signatures for decriminalization actions on their local ballot, making them the fifth city to do so in Texas so far. All of these cities will follow in the footsteps of Austin, the city that has succeeded in getting past decriminalization.
In order to be on the ballot in Harker Heights, advocates needed signatures from more than 25% of registered voters, and they exceeded their target.
“Following the success of Prop A in Austin and the recent securing of ballot initiatives in Killeen and San Marcos, Ground Game Texas is proud to give Harker Heights residents the opportunity to decriminalize marijuana,” Julie Oliver, executive director of the organization, claimed, according to a press release. “Ground Game Texas continues to demonstrate that popular politics on issues such as workers, wages, and weeds can help expand and electrify Texas’ electorate when they are placed directly in front of the electorate.”
The goal of the Harker Heights Liberty Act is to ensure that “police officers do not issue citations or arrest for Class A or Class B misdemeanors for possession of marijuana,” except in certain circumstances such as a violent felony or drug felony. The case was “identified as a high priority investigation” by the police. In other words, the goal is to focus only on high-level drug trafficking, not on ordinary people who use cannabis.
If this measure is passed, it will also ensure that the police cannot give quotes to people who simply echo or otherwise use the tools. This will keep the system clear of those with small amounts of cannabis or just a used pipe.
In order for this measure to become a reality, city officials will still need to formally certify signatures and ensure they are all valid before they are included on the ballot. This initiative is just one initiative in a broader effort to enact cannabis policy reform one city at a time, given that currently in Texas, there is no process for adding this to the statewide ballot.
In the past, Austin demonstrated that this process could work when the city agreed to hold a ballot to decriminalize cannabis. Non-beating orders have also been banned by police in general, all thanks to the work of Ground Game Texas.
The group also works with Mano Amiga, a criminal justice reform group committed to the release of cannabis clients. They worked with them to make sure there were more than enough decriminalizing signatures on the San Marcos ballot as well, and the reform process continued across the state.
Also, in May, Ground Game Texas reported that activists had obtained enough signatures to put a decriminalization on the ballot for Killeen as well. Likewise, activists have collected enough signatures in Denton as well, and once they are validated, we also hope to add that to the ballot. Finally, signature collectors also collected enough signatures in Elgin.
In each of these cities, local city council officials can also enact these proposals as municipal law in lieu of polling procedures, which means legalization can spread faster.
As Texas continues to decriminalize the slow way, one city at a time, hearts and minds are changing and public talk of legalization is close to becoming a reality nationwide.