Activists in San Marcos, Texas have launched a campaign to put marijuana decriminalization on the local ballot in 2022.
The goal is to remove all municipal criminal penalties for simple cannabis possession, building on other criminal justice reforms the group has advanced such as establishing a public defender’s office in Hays County.
Advocates with Mano Amiga say they will formally begin the petition process in spring of next year. The text of the proposed initiative is not yet available.
“It is well past time that we follow the footsteps of many cities and states in the United States to not criminalize possession of cannabis,” Eric Martinez, policy director for Mano Amiga, told KUT.
The group will need to turn in valid signatures from at least 10 percent of registered voters in order to place the marijuana reform on the ballot.
Just to the north of San Marcos, a separate campaign attempted to put cannabis decriminalization on Austin’s ballot this November, but activists have since shifted their strategy toward putting the measure in front of voters on the May 2022 ballot.
Mike Siegel, the co-founder of Ground Game Texas, which is behind the Austin effort, told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview that the group has so far collected about 30,000 signatures. Looking ahead, it plans to target between six and 12 additional cities for cannabis reform during the November 2022 election.
Both Austin and Dallas have already independently enacted law enforcement policy changes aimed at reducing arrests for marijuana-related offenses by issuing citations and summons.
There is no statewide, citizen-led initiative process that would enable advocates to put an issue like decriminalization or legalization on the Texas ballot. But at the local level, there are limited cases where activists can leverage home rule laws that allow for policy changes.
A strong majority of Texans back even broader reform, according to recent polling. Sixty percent of voters in the state support making cannabis legal “for any use,” signaling that local initiatives for more modest proposals like decriminalization will likely prevail where they qualify for local ballots.
This year’s legislative session in Texas saw numerous drug policy proposals advance, with bills to expand the state’s medical cannabis program and require a study into the therapeutic potential of certain psychedelics for military veterans having been enacted.
Advocates remain disappointed, however, that lawmakers were unable to pass more expansive cannabis bills—including a decriminalization proposal that cleared the House but saw no action in the Senate.
San Marcos is just one of numerous jurisdictions where activists hope to see cannabis reform advance through the ballot next year.
Nebraska marijuana activists announced last week that they have turned in a pair of complementary initiatives to legalize medical cannabis that they hope to place on the state’s 2022 ballot.
Ohio activists recently cleared a final hurdle to begin collecting signatures for a 2022 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in the state.
Missouri voters may see a multiple marijuana initiatives on the state’s ballot next year, with a new group filing an adult-use legalization proposal late last month that could compete with separate reform measures that are already in the works.
Arkansas advocates are collecting signatures to place adult-use marijuana legalization on the ballot.
Activists in Idaho are working to advance separate measures to legalize possession of recreational marijuana and to create a system of legal medical cannabis sales. State officials recently cleared activists to begin collecting signatures for a revised initiative to legalize possession of marijuana that they hope to place before voters on the 2022 ballot. Meanwhile, a separate campaign to legalize medical cannabis in the state is also underway, with advocates actively collecting signatures to qualify that measure for next year’s ballot.
Maryland’s House speaker has pledged that lawmakers will pass legislation to put the question of marijuana legalization before voters as a referendum on the 2022 ballot. She’s formed a cannabis working group to assess the best way to structure the reform, and that group met for the first time last week.
After a House-passed bill to legalize marijuana in North Dakota was rejected by the Senate in March, some senators hatched a plan to advance the issue by referring it to voters on the 2022 ballot. While their resolution advanced through a key committee, the full Senate blocked it. However, activists with the group North Dakota Cannabis Caucus are collecting signatures to qualify a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis for the 2022 ballot.
Oklahoma advocates are pushing two separate initiatives to legalize marijuana for adult use and overhaul the state’s existing medical cannabis program.
South Dakota activists recently filed four separate legalization measures with the state Legislative Research Council—the first step toward putting the issue before voters next year if the state Supreme Court upholds a lower court ruling that overturned the legal cannabis measure that voters approved last November.
Wyoming’s attorney general recently issued ballot summaries for proposed initiatives to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize cannabis possession, freeing up activists to collect signatures to qualify for the 2022 ballot.