Community Coalition Seeking 20,000 Signatures for Petition to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession in Dallas

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Community Coalition Seeking 20,000 Signatures for Petition to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession in Dallas

A coalition of community organizations has launched a push to decriminalize marijuana in the City of Dallas.

The group, which includes Ground Game Texas, Dallas Action and Somos Texas, is looking to put a measure on the ballot for the November election called the “Dallas Freedom Act.” They held a rally outside the Frank Crowley Courthouse in Dallas Monday morning.

“Dallas Action” founder Changa Higgins explains what the measure would do if passed.

“It would stop the arrest of people for simple possession, that’s Class A and Class B marijuana possession, four ounces or less. It would also limit the ability for police to target people for marijuana smells,” he said.

The measure would also prohibit City funds from being used for chemical testing to distinguish legal hemp from illegal marijuana and would require the City to publicly report on its marijuana enforcement programs.

Dallas police currently operates under “cite and release” when it comes to what is considered a small amount marijuana possession.

Higgins also pointed out that the numbers from the Dallas County District Attorneys Office show these types of cases aren’t often prosecuted after the arrest.

“If you look at Dallas County in 2021, there were 2400 misdemeanor marijuana cases in the DA’s office and the DA rejected 2,005 of them,” he said.

“Dallas Action” issued a report in May 2023, that found black residents in Dallas make up a disproportionate number arrests by Dallas police including for minor marijuana possession offenses.

According to the National Institutes of Heath, in 2018, the lifetime prevalence of cannabis use was lower for Black (45.3%) than White (53.6%) adults aged 18 years or older, but Black individuals were 3.64 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.

The coalition needs at least 20,000 petition signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The push to decriminalize low-level marijuana possessions have been playing out statewide, including in North Texas.

Denton voters passed a similar ordinance in 2022 but city officials refused to enforce it.

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Region: Texas

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