On Tuesday, September 3, 2019, the Austin City Council’s Judicial Committee met to receive an update on and discuss THC testing and marijuana enforcement under new state law. This meeting was called due to the current issues surrounding the implementation of HB 1325. There was a presentation from the Austin Police Department (APD)’s Assistant Chief Gay and public comment from the community.
ADP’s stance is that marijuana is illegal under state and federal law. APD has not increased enforcement efforts but continues to cite and release or arrest for POM. However, APD thinks “a non-enforcement position with no sanctions” would lead to an increase in violent crime. They further stated that that they believe that most murders involve marijuana, which the Chair later deemed “not statistically relevant” to draw conclusions. APD has been working towards a testing solution and believe they will have one within six months.
Almost a dozen advocates offered the committee thoughtful feedback on the impacts of arrest and collateral consequences on the community. They touched on the racial disparity when enforcing these laws, the resources that would be wasted on reinvesting in the current policy, the issues that have now arisen regarding using the smell of marijuana for probably cause and more. Our Executive Director offered testimony regarding polling and legislative support. Watch her testimony here.
During the Q&A portion with the Assistant Chief, the Committee asked for follow up information on the citation rates demographics by race. Find the numbers he offered here.
We will keep you updated on any further discussion by Austin City Council on this matter.