Decriminalization of Marijuana on Denton Midterm Ballot, as President Pardons Thousands

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The President will pardon thousands of people with federal convictions for ‘simple possession' of marijuana. He’s asked governors to consider taking steps to decriminalizing marijuana at the state level as well.

This comes just ahead of midterms when Denton voters will decide on marijuana decriminalization.

Nick Stevens welcomes the news coming out of the White House.

“This is a huge deal specifically because of who it’s coming from,” Stevens said.

The Biden Administration’s move is expected to impact some 6,500 people.

“No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” said President Biden.

Denton voters will see the measure on the ballot due primarily to the work of local organization Decriminalize Denton.

“We collected 3,000 signatures from republicans, democrats, and independents, all who agreed that now was the time to put it on the ballot and let the people decide,” said Stevens.

Stevens, a board member for Decriminalize Denton, hand-delivered those signatures months ago in what became a big step in getting the measure on the ballot.

There is concern though. Some in law enforcement believe marijuana is a gateway to other crimes and more drug use.

According to the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System, drug and narcotic offenses show an increase in all categories except marijuana from 2020 to 2021.

“I’d be happy to meet with the Governor, I’d be happy to meet with his opponent Beto O’Rourke and explain to them what we’re doing here in Denton and why it would be beneficial statewide,” said Stevens.

The Department of Justice is working on a process to distribute certificates of pardon, which they can show to potential employers and others as needed.

In Texas, it's a misdemeanor for small possession of up to 2 ounces. A person could face up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Possessing more than 4 ounces is a felony.

The pardon does not apply to convictions for possession of other drugs, nor does it apply to non-citizens who were in the U.S. without legal status at the time of an arrest.

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