San Marcos moves to End Low Level Marijuana Arrests

Activists championing the cause for reform in marijuana usage have spread their nets to the city of San Marcos in the state of Texas, where they have obtained and exceeded the required signature for reform laws on the substance to be placed on the October and November ballot where residents in the city would be allowed to decide if the possession of up to 4 ounces of marijuana should be decriminalized.

Ground Game Texas, alongside other reformation groups such as Mano Amigo, Lost River Film Fest, Texas Cannabis Collective were able to collect a total of 10, 624 signatures, however only 4,667 of them were verified. This number surpassed the number provided for by the city charter, which stated that the number of signatures needed to place the petition on the ballot was 4,182. The charter actually provides that once the number reaches 4,182, the council was required to pass the ordinance without any alteration or they should have an election.

The group known as Mano Amigo, stated that they could have collected more signatures for the petition however an accident with the process hindered their efforts, they were able to get the signatures of some students who also registered to vote on the same day and as such the city clerk decided not to recognize those signatures.

Cities like San Marcos are attempting to take the road taken by Austin in May, when they passed a legislation that would decriminalize the possession of low-level marijuana and also passed a ban on no-knock raids by the police, this legislation was overwhelmingly passed with over 85% of the voters supporting the legislation.

The Ordinance which would be placed on the November ballot is tailored to end the criminalization of the possession of marijuana of up to 4 ounces, as well as banning the police from using the marijuana or hemp smell as probable cause for a search and seizure. This legislation would however not stop the police from citing or arresting persons who are in possession of marijuana when it is in connection with a felony-level narcotics case or in the process of the investigation of a felony. Furthermore, the legislation does not extend to the possession of synthetic marijuana or THC oil, that is used to make edibles.

Activists have stated that their desire with this ordinance is to ensure that residents are not made criminals for petty offences which include the possession of marijuana. In the year 2020, the city implemented a cite and release law which mandated law enforcement officers to issue a citation instead of an arrest for residents involved in low level, non-violent possession of marijuana. However this measure is not enough because it still puts people in the criminal justice system.

City council members have however expressed concerns about how the ordinance would affect drug dealers, and also about the monetary value of 4 ounces which may result in robberies and muggings.

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