San Marcos could become next Texas city to decriminalize marijuana

Efforts to decriminalize marijuana in San Marcos are moving forward. Mano Amiga, a local grassroots organization, has started gathering signatures to get an initiative on the November ballot.

"We just think that it’s time," said Samantha Benavides, communications director for Mano Amiga. "Many people in our community are having their lives so needlessly disrupted over possession of cannabis when just north of the county line they aren’t even being prosecuted for it."

Though marijuana is technically illegal in the state of Texas, Austin police officers don’t enforce it for possession of small amounts, due to a 2020 ordinance.

If the initiative is approved for the ballot, it would ensure that "San Marcos police officers shall not issue citations or make arrests for Class A or Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana offenses" except under limited circumstances described in the ordinance language.

According to data from the Vera Institute of Justice, one in ten bookings at the Hays County Jail are related to cannabis possession, and for a quarter of those, cannabis possession is the only charge.

After announcing their goal in September, Mano Amiga started gathering signatures in early December.

After a small break due to COVID cases among staff and the holidays, signature-gathering is expected to really take off in the coming weeks. Benavides said they plan to take petitions to community events, to the Texas State campus and door-to-door.

In order to qualify for the November ballot, 10% of registered voters in San Marcos must sign the petition within 180 days.

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