Activists in the city of Lubbock (population: 261,000) have submitted twice the total number of signatures required to compel city officials to vote on a measure depenalizing marijuana possession. 

The initiative seeks to end arrests and citations for adults who possess misdemeanor amounts of cannabis within the city’s limits. The measure also prohibits police from issuing citations for charges related to the possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

Last week, advocates behind the Freedom Act Lubbock ordinance provided 10,540 signatures to the City Secretary’s office, well above the threshold of valid signatures required. Once the signatures have been verified, city officials will decide either enact or reject the measure. If they reject it, the measure will go before voters as a ballot question next spring.

In 2022, Texas police made just under 25,000 marijuana-related arrests, according to the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer. Over 98 percent of those arrests were for marijuana possession.

Under Texas law, possessing any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Voters in several Texas cities – including Austin, Denton, Elgin, Harker Heights, Killeen, and San Marcos – have approved similar ballot measures in recent years. In some instances, like in Harker Heights, local officials have attempted to halt the implementation of the measures following voter approval.

Since 2012, NORML has identified over 120 cities or counties nationwide that have passed ordinances providing for significantly lower cannabis-related penalties than those provided under state laws.

Information on the initiative effort is available from Freedom Act Lubbock. Additional information is available from Texas NORML.

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