Austin City Council Unanimously Approves Marijuana Decrim Bill
According to the Texas Tribune, the resolution was passed 9 to 0, with Council member Jimmy Flannigan and Mayor Steve Adler being absent. During the public debate on the ordinance, around 20 people spoke on the measure and all but Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said they support it.
Austin residents who spoke in favor of the resolution cited the lack of racial equity in marijuana enforcement, the lasting impact that criminal records have on young and marginalized people, and the failure of the Texas Legislature to decriminalize at the state level, states the Tribune. A retired officer and an attorney who previously worked in the Texas attorney general’s office said law enforcement officers largely support this measure, though they are discouraged from voicing it.
“It’s time to do the right thing,” said Councilmember Gregorio Casar. “It’s the right thing for criminal justice reform.. and it’s the right thing for racial equity.”
The measure would end most all low-level marijuana charges, while still going after felony convictions.
“We will look at our policies in regard to the resolution that just passed to determine what, if any, changes we need to make,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said after the vote. According to him officers have instructions to use a “cite-and-release” process if the person and violation qualify for it.