Cannabis Decriminalization Bill Passes In Capital City Of Texas

Austin is the first city in the Lone Star State to buck prohibition trend
Written by 
Chris Kudialis, CBD and Cannabis Reporter.
|Last Updated:

Texas is the largest U.S. state with a near full-scale prohibition of cannabis. The Lone Star State allows only low-dose THC of less than 5 percent for registered medical patients suffering from epilepsy, and adult-use is completely banned.

But a local ordinance passed over the weekend in the capital city of Austin could be the first step in individual cities challenging the state government on the issue.

Voters on Friday passed a measure to decriminalize low-level consumption and use of the plant, by a lopsided margin of 85 percent to 15 percent. That came after local activists collected some 34,000 signatures to force the Austin City Council to put it on the ballot.

According to Marijuana Moment, cannabis activists in Texas plan to take their crusade to end prohibition beyond just Austin. Another campaign some 200 miles north in the city of Denton, a suburb of Dallas, also collected enough signatures to put cannabis decriminalization on this November’s ballot. An advocacy group called Ground Game Texas is working with local advocates in Killeen, Harker Heights and San Marcos to put similar measures on the ballot in those cities.

Unlike most states, Texas does not allow for a signature-led ballot initiative at the state level — meaning residents in the Lone Star State won’t be able to put cannabis legalization up for a statewide vote. Instead, activists are focusing on enacting change at the local level.

A November 2021 survey from the University of Houston found that 67 percent of Texans support cannabis reform, including 51 percent of Republicans. Another poll released last summer found that 9 in 10 Texas voters support some form of legalization and 60 percent favor legalizing adult-use cannabis.

State legislators in the Republican-controlled House and Senate have done little to advance the plant’s status in recent years, even though the party has publicly supported decriminalizing the plant since 2018. The Texas House approved a cannabis decriminalization bill in 2019, but the Senate did not advance the bill.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has stated on several occasions that he doesn’t believe people should be incarcerated over low-level marijuana possession.

“Prison and jail is a place for dangerous criminals who may harm others,” Abbott said back in January, “and small possession of marijuana is not the type of violation that we want to stockpile jails with.”


Chris Kudialis
Chris Kudialis
CBD and Cannabis Reporter
Chris Kudialis is the mainstream media’s authority on marijuana and CBD news coverage in Las Vegas. Chris began covering the beat as a reporter with the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2015, when cannabis had been medical-only for almost two years and the first dispensaries were just opening.

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