Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

A disappointing step towards re-criminalization

Paxton overreaches to strike down voter’s wishes
A+disappointing+step+towards+re-criminalization
Noah Willoughby

On Wednesday, Jan. 31, the office of Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that they would be suing five cities — Austin, San Marcos, Killeen, Denton and Elgin — for passing local ordinances that would decriminalize low-level marijuana possession within city limits. 

According to the Texas Tribune, Paxton stated 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.” 

These ordinances, passed during the 2022 midterm elections, received overwhelming support from voters. “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% of the votes in favor. Killeen had close to 70% in support,” according to the Texas Tribune

These ordinances serve to decriminalize low-level marijuana offenses, banning arrests for possession of less than four ounces of marijuana or possession of drug-related paraphernalia. 

These ordinances are an essential step to reverse the negative stigma around marijuana usage. According to the Center for American Progress, for the past 20 years, the United States has averaged 600,000 marijuana-related arrests. Black individuals are also four times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana-related offense than their white counterparts, despite evidence showing similar usage levels across both demographics. 

The ordinances also allow resources to be more efficiently distributed for public safety needs. Police officers can focus their time and resources on preventing more serious crimes and offenses. 

Paxton’s lawsuit is a severe governmental overreach that cannot go unanswered. These ordinances were passed with the full support of the popular vote and deserve to be upheld. As citizens, we must advocate for these ordinances to stay in place to respect the sovereignty of the voters who passed them and to help alleviate the negative effects of the low-level criminalization of marijuana. We must urge Paxton to drop the suit, and respect the decision of voters. 

You can find the contact information for Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/contact-us

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About the Contributors
Noah Willoughby, Staff Writer
Noah (he/him) is a Communications major at UTSA. Noah was born in San Antonio and has been here all of his life. He has spent a large portion of that life working with people who have disabilities throughout various jobs, but decided to come back to college to find a new path. He enjoys reading and writing and hopes to do the latter as a full-time gig.

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