Groups collect enough signatures to let San Marcos voters decide whether to decriminalize marijuana

One of the groups, Ground Game Texas, led an Austin petition drive which culminated last month with 85% of voters deciding to end low-level pot arrests.

click to enlarge A cannabis reform advocate shows off petitions signed by San Marcos voters. - COURTESY PHOTO / MANO AMIGA AND GROUND GAME TEXAS
Courtesy Photo / Mano Amiga and Ground Game Texas
A cannabis reform advocate shows off petitions signed by San Marcos voters.
Reform advocates say they have exceeded the number of petitions needed to secure a ballot initiative to let San Marcos voters decide whether to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana there.

Organizers said they have independently verified more than 4,600 signatures, when San Marcos' charter only requires 4,182, or one-tenth of the city's total registered voters. San Marcos City Council would next need to approve the proposal, which would go before voters during the November election.

"As we collected signatures, we heard so many people share their personal stories with us about their encounters with law enforcement over marijuana or about how it's affected the life of a family member," said Sam Benavides, communications director for Mano Amiga, a criminal-justice reform group involved in the drive.

Mano Amiga worked on the drive with voter-mobilization group Ground Game Texas, which led an Austin petition drive which culminated last month with 85% of voters deciding to end low-level cannabis arrests and ban no-knock warrants.

"We're excited about this being on the November ballot, where there's already a high turnout," Benavides said. "We think this is going to make turnout even higher. It's going to bring out younger voters who can make their voices count on something they care about."

While district attorneys in some Texas cities, including San Antonio, have already adopted cite-and-release policies for low-level pot busts, Benavides said municipalities should codify decriminalization so users aren't forced to pay fines.

Mano Amiga hasn't held any discussion with groups interested in pursuing a decriminalization drive in the Alamo City, she added.

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