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Houston / Harris County’s New Weed Policy

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Starting next month, people caught with four ounces or less of marijuana in Harris County will not go to jail.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg made the announcement Thursday. The new program goes into effect March 1.

Ogg says that they aren’t decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana. Instead, she says it’s a diversion program that is legal under state and federal law that will keep nonviolent people out of jail, save tax payer money and let law enforcement focus on going after more serious criminals.

According to the DA, this new policy will impact around 10,000 people a year. Whether or not it is a first offense, anyone caught with 4 ounces of marijuana or less will be required to take a $150 class designed to “help them make better choices”. Financial help is available for those who cannot pay for the class. Class attendance is required within 90 days or will result in arrest.

Right now, Ogg says that the county spends $26 million a year prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana cases with no real difference in public safety.

There are several exceptions to the law, including people dealing drugs, committing a crime while in possession and people on bond or probation.

If anyone is caught with marijuana before March 1, the record won’t be cleared.

Source: http://www.khou.com/news/local/harris-county-announces-changes-in-marijuana-policy/408973983

HPD chief to unveil new ‘cite and release’ marijuana ticketing policy

– Small amounts of marijuana—mainly for personal use—have landed lots of people behind bars in Houston. But if HPD’s top cop Chief Art Acevedo gets his way, things will change.

“I just received a draft policy from the DA’s office who has been working with different stakeholders this week. I will be presenting it to the Mayor tomorrow,” Acevedo said.

That proposal would be the blueprint for HPD’s cite and release program.

It would specifically target people who are caught with four ounces of marijuana or less.

Instead of taking them to jail for possession those people will receive a citation from Houston officers and told to appear in court at a later date.

Chief Acevedo says it would free up his officers and reduce jail overcrowding in the city and county.

Source: http://www.fox26houston.com/news/235611365-story