Austin votes to ban no-knock warrants and decriminalize small amounts of weed, early results show

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By a wide margin, Austin voters appear to have approved a proposal to sanction small amounts of marijuana and ban the use of no-knock warrants by police.

Nearly 90% of voters favored Proposition A, according to early voting results from Travis, Williamson and Hays counties. (The city spans parts of all three counties.) County election offices have yet to release Election Day results.

Those found with small amounts – 4 oz. or less – of marijuana in Austin are already not subject to criminal charges. Due to a 2019 state law legalizing hemp, prosecutors began dropping misdemeanor marijuana cases. After some back and forth in 2020, Austin police agreed to stop citing people for the offense.

By passing Proposition A, voters are simply codifying current police policy on marijuana. But Mike Siegel, co-founder of the nonprofit that circulated a petition to get Proposition A on the ballot, Ground Game Texas, said he hoped the action in Austin would trickle down. throughout the state.

“It sets an extremely clear marker for the rest of Texas that one is something that is possible. That a city can decide to end marijuana enforcement,” Siegel said. “And two, that it’s extremely popular.”

Ground Game Texas is working on similar ballots in other central Texas cities, including San Marcos and Elgin.

The ban on no-knock warrants is new for Austin. According to the Austin Police Department, police executed three no-knock warrants in 2022.

No-knock warrants are when police enter a building without announcing their presence. The use and, at times, deadly results of these types of warrants drew national attention when police killed Breonna Taylor in Louisville after she used a no-knock warrant to enter her home while she slept.

Currently, Austin police must get both a commander and a judge to sign a no-knock warrant. With the passage of Proposal A, officers executing warrants will be required to announce their presence and wait 15 seconds before entering the building.

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