Austin, TX calls it quits on marijuana possession arrests

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The city os movomg faster than the state on marijuana reform

According to a police memo released last Thursday, the Austin Police Department has officially decriminalized low-level marijuana possession. This change comes after more than a year after Texas made hemp legalization official, which at some point complicated the marijuana prosecutions across the state. The reason why is that, since the only legal difference between hemp and marijuana is the content of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which can’t be more than 0.3%, many prosecutors dropped the pending cases as they didn’t feel prepared to tell the difference between the two kinds of the cannabis plant.

“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,” Police Chief Brian Manley wrote in a memo to the Austin mayor and city council.

Actually, for the past six months, the total of new marijuana cases being filed by state’s prosecutors dropped by more than half. The drop in cases happened in part due to this new resolution approved by the Austin City Council in January. However, despite that, back then, Manley said that, since it was still illegal, he would continue to enforce the law.

But that changed with this latest release. “After reviewing the current protocols for handling marijuana cases at all of the relevant County and District Courts and Attorney Offices and/or conferring with representatives from those respective entities, APD has revised our marijuana-enforcement polices[sic] to comply with Council’s resolution and align with present practices within the local judicial system,” added Manley in the memo.