Judicial Committee item on 9/3 -- marijuana-related enforcement

Only City Council members and authorized staff are allowed to post on this message board.
Greg Casar
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:20 pm

Judicial Committee item on 9/3 -- marijuana-related enforcement

Post by Greg Casar » Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:26 pm

Colleagues,

We’re posting to share about our cosponsorship of Item 3 on the Judicial Committee Agenda for ‪September 3, 2019. The item asks for update and discussion regarding THC testing and marijuana enforcement by the Austin Police Department, in light of the recent changes made by the Legislature to the hemp law.

The new state law has defined hemp as cannabis with a concentration of .3% of THC or less. Because of this distinction, new THC testing will be required to prove whether or not a substance is marijuana. In light of this change in state law, County Attorney David Escamilla has stated that his office does not intend to pursue prosecution of misdemeanor marijuana possession without THC testing.

We have been concerned about the use of arrests and citations for low level marijuana misdemeanors, even before this change. Arrests for low level marijuana offenses can lead the loss of a vehicle, loss of wages, loss of a job, or worse. Citations for marijuana possession and tickets for marijuana paraphernalia can affect one’s ability to receive student financial aid, can impact one’s housing and can impact one’s ability to access certain government benefits.

Now that it’s been made clear that the misdemeanor cases won’t even be prosecuted, it seems like an important moment to ask whether or not our police should continue the practice of giving misdemeanor marijuana related citations/tickets or making misdemeanor marijuana arrests.

To make prosecution of these low-level possession misdemeanors possible under the new law, the City is considering purchasing expensive testing equipment and investing staff time in developing protocols and gaining accreditation for testing. We have serious concerns about the use of scarce taxpayer funds for these purposes.

We look forward to the briefing and discussion ‪on September 3rd and welcome you to join the committee for the conversation.

Sincerely,
MPT Delia Garza
CM Greg Casar
Gregorio "Greg" Casar
Council Member District 4