In a unanimous vote, the Austin City Council passed a resolution that will restrict city funds or city personnel from being used to create THC testing protocol and would direct APD to stop citing or arresting for offenses where the DA will not bring charges, such as low-level marijuana possession (PoM). An array of supporting organizations joined together to work on this important resolution. Texas NORML’s Executive Director offered testimony as a subject matter expert.
Many areas in Texas are deciding to simply no longer arrest for the charges, since the DAs are not going forward with prosecution. Agencies like the Travis County Sheriff and the Round Rock Police Department stopped enforcing low-level marijuana offenses. District Attorney Moore and County Attorney Escamilla are not prosecuting PoM cases without THC testing results, which are expensive and only a limited number of crime labs are accredited to test to the tenth of a percent. Despite this, our understanding is that the Austin Police Department (APD) has continued to cite and even arrest people for PoM – even though they know the cases will be automatically rejected.
Read the text of the resolution.
Watch the full Austin City Council Meeting.
Austin should be doing the absolute most we can within our discretion to prevent these arrests. Item 59 will prevent Austin taxpayer funds from being wasted on enforcing this failed policy and refocus the funds where they belong, protecting our city from violent and property crimes. This will be especially important since the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has announced that they will have a new test to verify THC levels so they can differentiate legal cannabis (hemp) and illegal cannabis (marijuana) in March. Since Texas arrests more than 60,000 people annually, they will be met with a large backlog in the crime labs. This resolution will prevent Austin from wasting taxpayer funds on these tests.