Paxton sues five cities over marijuana decriminalization ordinances

Seemed likely something like this would happen eventually.

A crook any way you look

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing five cities — Austin, San Marcos, Killeen, Elgin and Denton — to block their ordinances decriminalizing low-level marijuana possession.

In 2022, voters in the five cities approved policies that would end arrests and citations for possession of less than four ounces of marijuana. An initiative spearheaded by Ground Game Texas — the progressive group that first launched the proposition in Austin — worked with local organizations in the other four cities and succeeded in pushing for similar policies to appear on the ballots.

Paxton said in a Wednesday press release that the cities violated state laws and the Texas constitution concerning marijuana possession and distribution, claiming it to be unlawful for municipalities to adopt ordinances inconsistent with laws enacted by the Texas Legislature.

The ordinances had high levels of support. Austin received an overwhelming 85% of votes in support. In San Marcos, about 82% of votes were in favor. Elgin followed with almost 75% of votes in support. Denton, home to two universities, had about 71% votes in favor. Killeen had close to 70% in support.

The five cities are home-rule cities — jurisdictions that under the Texas constitution are allowed to establish any law or ordinance unless it’s expressly forbidden by state or federal law. However, Paxton argues the Texas Local Government Code forbids them from adopting policies that would result in not fully enforcing drug-related laws. Paxton is seeking to repeal the city’s ordinances and make them enforce state law.

See here for all my blogging on those referenda. Paxton is pond scum, but there have been concerns about the legality of these ordinances from the beginning, which is why in some cities the City Council voted to repeal the voter-approved ordinance. That doesn’t mean he’ll prevail, but his ridiculous rhetoric aside the lawsuit has merit. I’m actually a little surprised this wasn’t addressed by the Lege last year, though perhaps the Death Star bill would eventually cover it.

Anyway, this should be an interesting court fight, and whatever happens I’m happy for everyone to see Paxton be so forcefully on the side of locking up pot smokers, which is very much out of step with public opinion. I’m in favor of anything that makes him look even worse. The Current, Reform Austin, the Dallas Observer, and Courthouse News have more.

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2 Responses to Paxton sues five cities over marijuana decriminalization ordinances

  1. C.L. says:

    If anyone would/could benefit from puffing on a big phatty, I’d have to say it’d be Ken Paxton – might help him forget how much he’s disliked by the citizens of Texas, quite a few local governments, as well as folks outside his State that are just as appalled as we are by his behavior.

  2. Flypusher says:

    He won reelection by almost ten points, unfortunately, so let’s not fool ourselves into thinking accountability is coming for him any time soon.

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