A nonpartisan group in Denton is one step closer to marijuana decriminalization.
Denton resident Nick Stevens arrived at Denton City Hall on Wednesday with a box holding what he hopes is the beginning of major change.
“Today is a big day. We are turning in 3,000 signatures for Decriminalize Denton,” Stevens said.
Stevens is the associate director of Decriminalize Denton. He said it’s been months of work getting to this point. Organizers hit the ground, talking to anyone who would take the time to listen.
“We went to Republican and Democrat houses and polling locations,” he said. “We went to churches and bars and restaurants. We met people at the courthouse square. We just met people exactly where they were to communicate what we were doing.”
The city clerk received the petition with some 3,000 signatures in support of decriminalizing marijuana, though just over 1,700 verified signatures were actually needed.
Already in Denton, people caught with a personal amount of marijuana will likely just get a citation. This measure would take it a step further – no citation, no arrests on class A and B misdemeanor cases.
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Denton Mayor Gerard Hudspeth acknowledges getting 3,000 signatures is no easy task and said the right to petition the government is fundamental. However, he told NBC 5 he has reservations about decriminalizing marijuana.
“I’m concerned about the confusion,” said Hudspeth. “You’ll have students at UNT, at Texas Woman's University, at North Central Texas College that they don’t have to follow city ordinances, per se. There are licensed peace officers throughout the state. So, confusion is a concern for me. But, at the end of the day, if it gets on the ballot and people say this is what we want then I'll respect that.”
Months ago, just two city leaders supported the idea. Councilmember Deb Armintor was one of them. She doubled down on her support.
“It’s really important to do what we can as a city,” she said. “Of course, it would be better if the state decriminalized cannabis. Even better if the nation did. But here in Denton, we’re not going to wait for them.”
Ultimately, Stevens said he’s proud of his group’s activism. If they get their way, what comes next will be up to the people. Their aim is to have the issue on the ballot in November.