Hashish reform has moved at a snail’s tempo in Texas. However activists try to hurry issues up by combating for reform on the metropolis and county ranges. A gaggle known as Decriminalize Denton has twice tried to get an ordinance via Metropolis Council that will finish citations and arrests for misdemeanor quantities of marijuana. Each occasions, the ordinance didn’t get the votes it wanted from council members.
Now, Decriminalize Denton is attempting to get the ordinance handed by a poll initiative through the November 2022 metropolis election. However first, they’ve bought to get it on the poll. To do this, they want a minimum of 1,745 signatures. They’re aiming for 3,000.
They’ll begin accumulating these signatures throughout a kick-off occasion at midday on Feb. 19 outdoors the historic courthouse on Denton’s downtown sq..
“Assist us give Denton voters an opportunity to resolve our metropolis’s future on this key felony justice problem that has plagued our group for a lot too lengthy,” the group mentioned in a put up on Fb.
Representatives for Decriminalize Denton, UNT College students for Wise Drug Coverage and the Texas Hashish Collective will all be talking on the occasion.
If the ordinance makes it on the poll and is handed, Denton cops may solely cite or arrest for misdemeanor possession if it’s a part of a broader, high-priority narcotics case or every time a felony is concerned. It will additionally do away with class C misdemeanor citations for possession of drug residue or drug paraphernalia. Moreover, THC checks may solely be ordered underneath particular situations, like when a violent felony is concerned.
Each occasions they tried to get the ordinance via Metropolis Council, they did so with the assistance of council member Deb Armintor. The primary time, the group was working with a conservative majority council. The group thought it might have extra luck the second time round in January with a liberal majority council. However, the outcomes weren’t any totally different, Tristan Seikel, organizer and co-founder of Decriminalize Denton, mentioned.
“As we’ve seen with each the conservative majority and now a liberal majority on council, we don’t have a council proper now that’s prepared to maneuver ahead with one thing extra encompassing, like a whole decriminalization ordinance,” Seikel mentioned. “That’s why now we have pivoted now to going a poll route. The excellent news about that’s we’re not alone in doing this.”
“We want to make sure that when we change the laws here, we do so in an equitable way.” – Tristan Seikel, Decriminalize Denton
Seikel mentioned there are quite a lot of different campaigns seeking to undertake related ordinances via poll initiatives. For instance, a gaggle known as Floor Sport Texas not too long ago bought the Austin Freedom Act positioned on the Could 7 uniform election poll in Austin. The legislation would cease enforcement of low-level marijuana offenses and ban “no-knock” warrants within the metropolis.
With these ordinances, they hope to attain de facto decriminalization of small quantities of hashish. After all, they need legalization, Seikel mentioned, however decriminalization ought to come first.
“We wish de facto decriminalization as an A precedence, extra essential to us than legalization as a result of we’ve seen in lots of states the place they’ve legalized however they haven’t centered on the justice part,” he mentioned. “That’s left quite a lot of hashish prisoners and lots of people unjustly struggling in jail whereas different individuals, normally wealthy white of us, come into the market and dominate it and don’t have that very same historical past of being persecuted by those self same legal guidelines. So, we need to make it possible for after we change the legal guidelines right here, we achieve this in an equitable manner.”
For them, that appears like combating for decriminalization concurrently legalization or earlier than. “However it must be included with that dialog,” he mentioned.
Seikel mentioned November 2022 can be excellent timing for the ordinance as a result of it’s across the similar time Legal professional Basic Ken Paxton is up for re-election.
“It will be superb if we may doubtlessly get some native decriminalization handed in Denton, whereas on the similar time voting out a key state actor who has unilaterally prevented bi-partisan hashish payments from going ahead on the state legislature stage,” Seikel mentioned. “So, 2022 might be an thrilling 12 months for Texas hashish activists.”
Because the group prepares for the occasion subsequent weekend, it’s also in search of volunteers to assist collect signatures. The group created a volunteer form for individuals who could also be eager about serving to.
“We simply must get as many petitioners as attainable to assist us out,” he mentioned. “When you’ve got connections in Denton or you understand people who find themselves registered to vote in Denton, we completely want your assist.”