Police officers in Austin, Texas will now not arrest or concern citations to these suspected of possessing small quantities of marijuana, based on an Austin Police Department memorandum launched on Thursday. The coverage change comes 5 months after the Austin City Council voted to finish enforcement of low-level hashish possession legal guidelines and greater than a 12 months after Texas legalized hemp agriculture within the state.

“APD will no longer cite or arrest individuals with sufficient identification for Class A or Class B misdemeanor ‘possession of marijuana’ offenses, unless there is an immediate threat to a person’s safety or doing so as part of the investigation of a high priority, felony-level narcotics case or the investigation of a violent felony,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley wrote within the memo to Austin’s mayor and metropolis council.

In June 2019, the Texas legislature legalized hemp manufacturing within the state, defining the crop as hashish with lower than 0.3% THC by dry weight. That led many native prosecutors all through the state to announce that they’d now not file prices for minor pot possession circumstances, explaining that proving seized hashish was marijuana and never hemp required costly, and in lots of circumstances unavailable, lab testing.

Police Originally Balked At City Council Resolution

Then in January of this 12 months, the Austin City Council handed a decision calling on the town’s police division to cease ticketing or arresting folks for possession of small quantities of marijuana. The decision additionally required that metropolis funds and personnel be utilized for THC testing solely in circumstances involving felony prices. Manley initially resisted the transfer, saying that the decision wouldn’t change how law enforcement officials in Austin enforced state statutes.

“[Marijuana] is still illegal, and we will still enforce marijuana law if we come across people smoking in the community,” he said throughout a information convention on the time.

In the change of coverage launched on Thursday, nonetheless, Manley mentioned that Austin police would adjust to the council decision and comply with the lead of different legislation enforcement companies. Under the brand new tips, officers who suspect that an individual possesses a misdemeanor quantity of marijuana will likely be instructed to grab the substance and file a report with out making an arrest or issuing a quotation.

“After reviewing the current protocols for handling marijuana cases at all of the relevant County and District Courts and Attorney Offices and/or conferring with representatives from those respective entities, APD has revised our marijuana-enforcement [policies] to comply with Council’s resolution and align with present practices within the local judicial system,” Manley wrote within the memo.

Council Member Applauds Decision

City Council Member Greg Casar lauded the change, noting that Blacks in Austin usually tend to be cited for marijuana possession than the town’s white residents.

“When people organize for racial justice, they can make real change,” Casar wrote in a press release. “Although the Police Chief should have made this change the day after City Council passed my resolution directing this back in January, it finally happened today because of continued community advocacy.”

To enact the obligatory change in enforcement coverage, the police division’s command employees met to debate the revisions, and officers will likely be issued a coaching bulletin to overview and acknowledge the brand new tips.

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