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San Marcos voters to decide on decriminalization of marijuana this November

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Patricia Lim
/
KUT
If approved by voters in San Marcos, the ordinance would end citations and arrests for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

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Voters in San Marcos will decide whether or not to decriminalize marijuana this November.

The opportunity comes after a criminal justice reform group, Mano Amiga, collected more than 4,600 signatures as part of a campaign to get the measure on the ballot.

At a meeting on Tuesday night, San Marcos City Council members unanimously approved sending the ordinance to voters.

Samantha Benavides, Mano Amiga's communication director, said the organization was "thrilled" with the council's decision.

"We're excited that we decided to play by the book and get the voters input in a democratic fashion," Benavides said. "And City Council, similarly in a democratic fashion, is deciding to send it to the ballot and let the voters decide."

If approved by voters, the ordinance would end citations and arrests for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and ban police officers from using the smell of marijuana or hemp as probable cause for search or seizure. It would also require officers to receive training on the ordinance.

Benavides said the group's focus ahead of the election is on getting people registered to vote. Mano Amiga collected more than 11,000 signatures to get this measure on the ballot, but the city could only verify around 4,600. Thousands of others weren't counted because their addresses couldn't be verified, Benavides said.

"A lot of these signatures that we got are from people who are excited and want to see change in their city and want to make their voices heard on this issue," Benavides said. "But due to lack of information and just inaccessibility, a lot of [their] registration is not up to date."

Benavides said Mano Amiga will be contacting the thousands of people whose signatures weren't verified to help get them registered to vote.

Election Day is Nov. 8, and early voting begins Oct. 24.

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Riane Roldan is the Hays County reporter for KUT, focusing on the costs and benefits of suburban growth. Got a tip? Email her at rroldan@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @RianeRoldan.
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