Nonprofit aims to have marijuana reform on 2022 ballot

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Civil rights group Mano Amiga, based out of San Marcos, is pushing to decriminalize marijuana in Hays County and its plan of action is to include it as part of a ballot measure next year.

What You Need To Know

Civil rights group Mano Amiga works to decriminalize marijuana in Hays County Mano Amiga's plan is to include it as part of a ballot measure next year

The group's goal is to have a similar cannabis policy to that of Travis County

Their goal is to match the same cannabis policy that exists in Travis County and end the disproportionate effects of cannabis arrests.

Kyle resident Joe Negrete has had two run-ins with law enforcement related to marijuana possession.

“I do love to smoke, but I wish I could do it other ways where I won't get in trouble, or something, or they could just legalize it where I won't have to stress so much,” he said.

His two misdemeanors have cost him roughly $1,000 and a third arrest could be enhanced to a felony.

“Just on the other side of the county they're not doing that," said Negrete, referencing the City of Austin's effective decriminalization of marijuana.

"It has been the leading arrest charge in Hays County since at least 2013," said Mano Amiga's Jordan Buckley who has been advocating for major cannabis reform in the area to reverse the trend of people of color being disproportionately affected by arrests.

"This is definitely something that we have to look into and change for not only the sake of everyone being affected by the criminalization of marijuana, but especially disenfranchised individuals and people of color who have been targeted by law enforcement for decades," said Frank Wunschel of the Vera Institute of Justice. 

For now, Negrete says he’ll continue to use cannabis in the privacy of his home and hopes voters will give him the chance to light up in public.

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