University of Texas students want campus police to let up on marijuana arrests

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 14:43 EDT
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UT Student Government member Robert Love. Photo: Screenshot via KVUE-TV.
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The University of Texas Student Government will vote on a bill Tuesday night that would ask campus police to issue citations for marijuana possession offenses instead of making arrests.

KVUE-TV in Austin noted that the proposal is the first of its kind for any university in the nation, even though it would be non-binding if it passes.

The proposal is roughly in line with how police in Austin and the surrounding Travis County area handle minor marijuana offenses already, but it goes a bit further by asking police to only issue citations instead of toeing the county’s line of giving police the option of making a “field arrest” and immediately release the suspect with a summons.

“I want to make sure that [police officers] have the availability to spend those resources investigating violent crime, rather than forcing them to investigate marijuana crimes on campus,” student government member Robert Love, pictured, told KVUE-TV.

Though a simple request, the resolution could be seen as similar to the numerous city councils around the country that have passed ordinances confining marijuana offenses to the local police department’s lowest priority.

While the laws concerning marijuana use would remain unchanged, similar reforms have been gaining favor with officials in cities big and small, where local ordinances can make marijuana possession punishable by a citation similar to a parking ticket.

Although Texas is not known for having liberal marijuana laws, it’s probably not surprising that such a proposal would be taken seriously in a city that once a year permits thousands of marijuana enthusiasts to sit in a field for three days smoking pot and listening to reggae music, just down the street from where officials dedicated a bronze statue of Willie Nelson.

Despite having a population nearing 1 million people to look out for, NBC affiliate KXAN-TV noted that the Austin Police Department reported only 3,249 marijuana arrests in 2012, down roughly one third from the 5,000 marijuana arrests Austin police logged in 2010.

This video is from Austin ABC News affiliate KVUE-TV, aired Monday, March 25, 2013.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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