The city council in Austin, Texas approved a resolution last week to end enforcement of low-level marijuana offenses, but the city’s police chief says that the department will continue to issue tickets and make arrests for possession of small amounts of pot.
On Thursday, the city council passed a resolution directing the police department not to spend public resources on expensive lab tests that are now necessary to prosecute marijuana crimes. Since the legalization of hemp under federal and Texas state law, many prosecutors in the state are no longer filing charges in marijuana cases without lab test results that show a THC concentration higher than 0.3%. The Austin measure prevents such testing except in cases carrying felony charges.
Councilmember Greg Casar said before the vote that the resolution would help end the collateral damage caused by convictions for minor marijuana crimes.
“We know that too many Austinites have had their lives derailed by a low-level marijuana offense,” Casar said during a press conference on Tuesday. “People have lost their jobs, they could lose their student financial aid, families could even be separated by deportation when we overly enforce low-level offenses that could result in arrests or warrants.”