Austin, Tx., voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure that prevents police officers from enforcing laws against possessing small amounts of marijuana and from entering properties unannounced using no-knock warrants. Proposition A — which removes police discretion by cementing these two policies into law — passed with 57,967 votes in favor, or 85.5 percent, while there were 9,839 votes against it, or 14.5 percent, reports the Austin American Statesman. The measure was the only proposition on the Saturday ballot. After hotly contested fights in elections on homeless camping in May 2020 and police officer hires in November, Proposition A did not draw an opposition campaign.
Under the new measure, police officers will no longer be allowed to make an arrest or issue a citation for possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana, with two exceptions: if the arrest or citation is part of an investigation into a high-priority narcotics case or a violent felony. Otherwise, the most officers will be allowed to do is seize the drugs. The proposition's passage codifies the policy the City Council recommended in 2020 after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law that made it all but impossible to distinguish narcotic marijuana from legal hemp. Then-Police Chief Brian Manley announced that officers would no longer cite or arrest people for having small amounts of pot. On the no-knock issue, passage of Proposition A stipulates that officers investigating a crime can still enter a residence with a signed warrant only after they've announced their presence and waited at least 15 seconds.