Texas Sues Cities Over Cannabis Decriminalization Laws
Texas is taking legal action against several municipalities that have chosen to decriminalize cannabis use, claiming violations of the state’s constitution. The lawsuits target Austin and its suburbs—San Marcos, Killeen, Elgin—and Denton, a Houston suburb. Attorney General Ken Paxton asserted, “I will not stand idly by as cities run by pro-crime extremists deliberately violate Texas law and promote the use of illicit drugs that harm our communities.”
The legal dispute centers on these municipalities, accused of infringing the Texas Constitution by implementing policies not prosecuting cannabis possession and distribution. The Texas Health and Safety Code deems marijuana possession a misdemeanor for quantities under two ounces, with escalating penalties for larger amounts. Additionally, cannabis is a federal “Schedule I” drug, signifying its lack of accepted medicinal or recreational use.
Despite legal challenges, the ordinances enjoyed substantial local support. Austin voters endorsed non-prosecution of cannabis offenses by an overwhelming 85% margin.
Similarly, San Marcos received 82% support, while Elgin, Denton, and Killeen garnered 75%, 71%, and 70% approval, respectively. The City of Denton refrained from commenting on the pending litigation, stating, “We are aware of the Attorney General’s lawsuit and subsequent news release.”
Paxton’s legal actions align with a broader trend as Republican-led states decriminalize cannabis possession or legalize recreational use through ballot initiatives. Missouri legalized cannabis possession and use in 2022, and Montana and South Dakota took similar steps in 2020.
Responding to Paxton’s decision, the Texas Cannabis Collective, now known as X, criticized him, stating, “Ken Paxton will be remembered as being on the wrong side of history.”