Denton, Texas, a small city in the heart of conservative North Texas, is set for a historic vote to decriminalize cannabis possession. This development comes as quite a shock and could represent the beginning of a sea-change in cannabis policy across America’s red states.
When California legalized medical marijuana almost 25 years ago, it was almost impossible to imagine a moment like this. Many cannabis lovers thought it was the beginning of the end of cannabis prohibition nationwide, something which seemed impossible at the time for a number of reasons.
First, the golden state’s vote to legalize flew right in the face of federal law. Second, there was a “red wall” of conservative red states that vowed to block any efforts at national legalization efforts. When it comes to that red wall, Texas is one of the biggest bricks in it. But now, that wall is showing some signs of serious strain.
Slowly but surely, a wave of legalization and relaxing of state cannabis policies began to sweep east from California. Arizona and then Nevada eventually followed suit. Louisiana, another very conservative state, legalized possession of medical cannabis. So did Oklahoma, which is the very heart of America’s bible belt.
Now Denton, Texas, which is a city of nearly 140,000 people in the notoriously conservative Dallas/Ft. Worth area, may be on the verge of joining the club. If the new legislation, which is sponsored by Decriminalize Denton, passes, police will cease arresting or issuing tickets for possession Class A or Class B Cannabis possession.
Under current law, cannabis possession works as follows:
- Class B Possession: 2 ounces or less, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000
- Class A Possession: 2 to 4 ounces, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $4,000 fine
Additionally, the mere smell of marijuana in a car will not give police probable cause to search the vehicle. There is still a carve-out for freshly burnt cannabis, which may be indicative of driving under the influence. Police may still investigate that, but simple possession would no longer be a criminal offense.
This would represent a massive sea change in Cannabis policy at the municipal level in Texas. Larger cities such as Houston, Dallas and San Antonio already trend progressive in elections and if Denton decriminalizes, many of them may follow suit.
However, even if the bill fails, the fact that this petition was able to achieve enough signatures to get on the ballot in the heart of Texas’ bible belt is indicative of change on the horizon for cannabis possession in the lone star state. It’s not hard to imagine a state-wide decriminalization measure making the ballot eventually. The legalization train is coming down the tracks, one way or another.
G13 Club is a private social club for medical and recreational cannabis users based in Barcelona. It is also a space for musical and artistic development that promotes a multitude of activities focused on the expression and exhibition of urban, hip hop, reggae and skate culture.