Efforts to Decriminalize Marijuana See Mixed Results

Marijuana joint | Image by Tunatura/Shutterstock
Marijuana joint | Image by Tunatura/Shutterstock

Efforts in Texas to decriminalize marijuana possession in recent years have been met with mixed results, with voters in Lubbock recently shooting down a proposed ordinance to that effect.

Proposition A, which garnered significant attention and debate, would have decriminalized the possession of four ounces or less within Lubbock city limits. The measure was ultimately defeated in the May 4 election, with 64.6% of voters opposing the proposal.

The proposition was spearheaded by a local activist group called Freedom Act Lubbock, which has been trying to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana within the city since August 2023, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Despite successfully collecting enough signatures to trigger a citizen-initiated ordinance, the proposal faced significant opposition from the right-leaning grassroots organization Project Destiny, which is known for its advocacy for the Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance in 2021.

Paul Stell, representing Project Destiny, expressed satisfaction regarding the election results.

“We’re thankful that our fellow citizens turned out and sent a very clear message that this proposition doesn’t align with the values of the Lubbock community,” Stell said, per LAJ.

While proponents of Proposition A and advocates from Freedom Act Lubbock expressed disappointment with the outcome, they acknowledged the lessons learned and the broader impact of the proposition on marijuana reform discourse.

Freedom Act Lubbock member Adam Hernandez, who placed third in a field of six in Lubbock’s recent mayoral race, noted that despite the proposition’s failure, it succeeded in elevating the conversation around marijuana reform at both the local and state level.

Hernandez viewed the initiative as a valuable gauge of public sentiment on the issue.

“[The proposition] raised the profile of this issue at the state level and had the entire state talking about it. That is a contribution that I think shouldn’t be overlooked that Lubbock accomplished — that we accomplished. That the people that worked on Prop A accomplished,” he told LAJ.

“We’re gonna be here. We’re not going anywhere. … Our work is not going anywhere. Maybe sometime in the near future, we bring Freedom Act Lubbock back when we’re ready,” added Hernandez.

In 2022, citizens in Austin, San Marcos, Killeen, Elgin, and Denton passed initiatives on the ballot to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses. However, in January 2024, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the five Texas cities, declaring that the Texas Constitution implies municipalities cannot adopt ordinances that conflict with state laws. The cities of Denton, Elgin, and Killeen all notably stood by their initiatives to halt citations and arrests for marijuana possession, except in specific circumstances.

“The lawsuit filed by Ken Paxton is frivolous. It should be subject to sanctions because he is obviously attempting to use a judicial forum for political stunts, which is something he frequently does. I expect Ken Paxton’s lawsuit against the City of Denton to be dismissed,” the attorney for Decriminalize Denton, Richard Gladden, told The Dallas Express.

In Dallas, a coalition of community advocates has launched a petition seeking to decriminalize marijuana possession within the city limits. Supporters gathered outside the Frank Crowley Courthouse for a rally in January, emphasizing the need to address the issue of misdemeanor arrests and provide clarity for law enforcement and the community. The petition, dubbed the “Dallas Freedom Act,” needs 20,000 signatures of qualified registered voters to secure a spot on the November ballot, according to Fox 4 KDFW.

The Dallas Freedom Act, if passed, would not only prevent citations or arrests for misdemeanor marijuana possession but also prohibit the city from allocating resources for THC concentration tests, a critical element in distinguishing legal hemp products from illegal marijuana.

According to a survey by the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs conducted last year, 49% of Texans “strongly support” the decriminalization of marijuana, and 47% “strongly support” the legalization of marijuana.

In Texas, possession of two ounces or less of marijuana is considered to be a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by a maximum incarceration period of 180 days and a fine not to exceed $2,000.

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article