LUBBOCK, Texas — The Lubbock City Council on Tuesday decided to send an ordinance that would decriminalize low-level, personal use marijuana to Hub City voters in May. This came after the Freedom Act Lubbock’s petition was verified to have the required number of valid signatures on November 2.
Since the motion failed 0 to 7, the petition process sent the marijuana to a vote of the citizens.
Seven citizens spoke in favor of the ordinance in front of the City Council and two spoke against the initiative. Some who were in favor cited the history of cannabis law in the United States. Adam Hernandez, communications chair for Lubbock Compact, said Lubbock has the authority to enact the ordinance due to being a “home rule city.”
Hernandez also called out the meeting being held at 9:00 a.m. on a weekday, and said it was difficult for people to show up.
“The heart of our ordinance is pretty simple,” Hernandez said. “We just don’t think people should go to jail for personal use of marijuana in Lubbock.”
Hernadez said since the issue impacts so many people, the decision should go to the voters, rather than falling on the City Council.
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Nick Harpster, a community advocate and a professor of criminal justice spoke in favor of the ordinance and said it would reduce the burden on marginalized groups. Harpster also said, “Low level marijuana arrests take significant amount of time away from officers that can be used, working on a much more serious crimes.”
Don Enger spoke against the ordinance and said he did not want his loved ones “killed by somebody that wants to take marijuana.”
“You might as well make drunk driving leaving legal to because it’s the same thing,” Enger said.
Mayor Tray Payne said he voted no because he believed the ordinance was “directly in conflict with state law.” Other members of the council agreed.
“My job is to look at the law first. Certainly, we’ll listen to the opinions of people on both sides, but at the end of the day I think my job is to follow my oath and my oath is to follow the law and the law says this is unconstitutional. It’s void. It’s unenforceable. It’s not something that I can support,” Payne said.
Lubbock Compact started organizing the efforts in February, and the petition kicked off in August. The petition contained 10,450 signatures. The requirement for this initiative was 4,800 valid signatures. The City of Lubbock previously said 8,979 signatures were reviewed, 3,794 were disqualified and 5,185 signatures were validated as “qualified.”
Even though City Council members did not vote in favor of Freedom Act Lubbock, Anne Keel and other members of Lubbock Compact left Tuesday’s meeting feeling hopeful.
“It was a good day at the end of the day. We may not have even one vote, but we were the winners at the end of the day,” Keel said.
Keel and Hernandez said they want the decision to ultimately be up to voters.
“We’re excited to now go into the phase of getting more people registered to vote and educating people that this will be coming on the ballot and then just getting them out to actually vote,” Hernandez said.