Five Texas cities vote to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession

Residents of five Texas cities voted to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession through ballot initiatives on Tuesday.

It comes months after residents in the state capital of Austin voted to decriminalize the drug under a proposition that says "police officers shall not issue citations or make arrests for Class A or Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana offenses," unless marijuana is seized as part of a larger narcotics investigation.

Residents of San Marcos, Denton, Killeen, Elgin and Harker Heights followed Austin's lead after advocacy groups helped get the marijuana question on ballots, according to Fox 7 Austin.

Marijuana is still illegal at the state level in Texas. A bill to lower the criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of the drug passed the Texas House in 2019 and 2021 but died both times in the state Senate.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who was re-elected to a third term on Tuesday, has signaled openness to decriminalizing low levels of marijuana.

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He told a crowd at a campaign event earlier this year that "prison and jail is a place for dangerous criminals who may harm others, and small possession of marijuana is not the type of violation that we want to stockpile jails with," according to the Texas Tribune.

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Elsewhere, Missouri and Maryland voted to legalize recreational marijuana on Tuesday, joining 19 other states and Washington, D.C.

North Dakota, South Dakota and Arkansas rejected ballot initiatives that would have legalized the drug.