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Texas Attorney General Sues Cities Over Pot Decriminalization

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing five Texas cities over their decriminalization of marijuana. His office is suing the cities for instructing police not to enforce Texas drug laws concerning possession and distribution of marijuana, the Hill reports. The drug, Paxton's office said, is one that “psychologists have increasingly linked to psychosis and other negative consequences.” Paxton’s suit comes amid a broader push by the conservative state government to exert authority over its left-leaning cities. The five cities targeted are Austin, San Marcos, Killeen, Elgin and Denton, each of which enacted laws decriminalizing marijuana between one and three years ago. Although none of the cities has legalized the drug — which would allow it to be bought and sold openly — each has passed ordinances directing police and prosecutors to deprioritize pressing charges against people holding small amounts of cannabis.

In Austin, a 2020 city council resolution directed police not to press charges against those caught with under 4 ounces of marijuana. In November 2022, voters in the other cities now being sued by Paxton resoundingly approved ballot measures that decriminalized up to the same limit — though these reforms have drawn resistance from local law enforcement. That opposition was strong enough to cause a sixth city — Harker Heights — to drop its decriminalization law just two weeks after voters passed it. And the Harker Heights city manager wrote in a 2022 letter that the responsibility to decriminalize rested with the state. That’s an opinion that Paxton’s office shares — and one that informs the suit against the five cities that still have decriminalized marijuana.


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