Being arrested for personal possession of marijuana will soon be a thing of the past.

According to a memo from Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, residents of Austin will no longer receive citations or be arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

The memo states:

“APD will no longer cite or arrest individuals with sufficient identification for Class A or Class B misdemeanor “possession of marijuana” offenses, unless there is an immediate threat to a person’s safety or doing so as part of the investigation of a high priority, felony-level narcotics case or the investigation of a violent felony.”

This a huge move, especially here in Texas. Earlier this year in January, the Austin city council unanimously passed agenda item 59, a proposal that would eliminate low-level marijuana cases. At the time, it was uncertain if the Austin Police Department would work with the city council to make this plan really happen. Again, this was huge, but legislators passed something even bigger that would help decriminalize marijuana the year prior.

In 2019, hemp was legalized in Texas when the state legislature passed HB 1325. The law went into effect on June 10, 2019, making cannabis with less than 0.3 percent of THC legal hemp, while anything more than that is considered marijuana. Thankfully this law helped pave the way to decriminalization, even though that's certainly not what legislators had in mind.

"The new law also caused confusion amongst prosecutors and law enforcement officials regarding the intent and significance of the enacted provisions and how agencies were expected to proceed with enforcement actions."

Without the funds or resources to distinguish hemp from marijuana, misdemeanor marijuana cases across the state dropped by more than half since the law changed last year.

We must continue to demand change, and while Governor Abbott insists that decriminalization of marijuana is not happening in the state of Texas, the people have different opinions.

Last year I organized an interview with Psychedelic Club President Joey Gallagher and I learned so much!

“We firmly believe social change precedes political change, despite what politicians and lobbyists will tell you,” Joey asserted as we spoke over the phone.

Joey was a canvasser for the Decriminalize Denver campaign, and led the Psychedelic Club in Denver for 3 years before becoming the executive director on the national level. Speaking with an advocate on the front lines of the war on drugs showed me just how important it is to clear up misconceptions on marijuana and psychedelics.

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