Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has announced a new legal battle against five Texas cities that have implemented cannabis decriminalization policies, as reported by The Hill. The lawsuit targets city mayors and council members from Austin, Denton, Elgin, Killeen, and San Marcos, arguing that their decriminalization policies violate Texas laws on marijuana possession and distribution. Paxton asserts that these policies, originating from successful voter initiatives, are illegal under the state constitution, which prohibits municipalities from enacting ordinances inconsistent with state law.
The legal action reflects a broader clash between state and local authorities over cannabis policies, highlighting the tension between local initiatives and state-mandated regulations. The lawsuit contends that the cities’ adoption of amnesty and non-prosecution policies goes against the state’s stance on marijuana offenses.
In a press release, AG Paxton stated, “I will not stand idly by as cities run by pro-crime extremists deliberately violate Texas law and promote the use of illicit drugs that harm our communities. This unconstitutional action by municipalities demonstrates why Texas must have a law to ‘follow the law.’ It’s quite simple: the legislature passes every law after a full debate on the issues, and we don’t allow cities the ability to create anarchy by picking and choosing the laws they enforce.”
The legal challenge comes in response to a broader trend of cannabis decriminalization efforts gaining traction in various cities across Texas. Voters in Harker Heights had initially approved cannabis decriminalization during the recent midterm elections, but the city council later repealed the initiative. Meanwhile, Lubbock city council members rejected a similar proposal, prompting the issue to be put to a vote in the upcoming election.
The clash between state and local authorities over cannabis policies reflects the ongoing debate on the appropriate level of regulation for marijuana-related offenses. Advocates argue that local initiatives respond to the will of the people, while opponents, including the Texas Attorney General, contend that these measures contravene state law.
As the legal battle unfolds, it raises questions about the authority of local governments to shape cannabis policies in response to changing public attitudes and the evolving landscape of cannabis legalization. The outcome of this lawsuit may have broader implications for the future of cannabis regulation in Texas and potentially influence the ongoing national conversation around marijuana decriminalization.