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Friday, March 24, 2017

City

Man on the Street: New marijuana policy in Harris County


Stoners in Harris county can now breathe a sigh of relief with the implementation of a new policy that will keep marijuana users from clogging up county courts and jails.

Effective March 1, offenders caught with less than 4 ounces — a misdemeanor offense according to Texas law — will not be taken to jail, fined or charged with anything, if they agree to take a voluntary four-hour drug education program.

The program costs the offender $150 and the person must not break the law before completing the class.

Not everyone is eligible to take this option if caught with marijuana. Those that are out on bond, currently on probation, caught in a school zone or those who are under the age of 17 do not have the option to take the class.

If the offender does not complete the class, called “Cognitive Decision Making,” within 90 days of being caught, an arrest warrant will be issued and charges will be filed by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

The new policy, unlike the previous one established by the former HCDA Devon Anderson, does not limit eligibility to first-time offenders. Anyone who is caught can take the class as many times as necessary if they are still eligible. However, the DA reserves the right to determine whether a person is a serial offender, in which case, greater action may be taken against the person.

The change comes in an attempt to curtail unnecessary tax-payer spending and drains on county resources.

“Approximately $26.7 million Harris County tax dollars are spent on the arrest and prosecution of misdemeanor marijuana offenders,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. “Comparatively, far fewer tax dollars are spent on the apprehension and prosecution of violent criminals responsible for rape, robbery and burglary in the greater Houston area.”

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  • Mohammed bin Zayed Jones

    This is ridiculous … 4 ounces is a ton.

    I know most people have probably smoked at least a bit. I have. But I didn’t take it as a everyday experience.

    The uninformed people who responded today do not see the consequences of a gateway drug. They don’t see the consequences in most of their endeavors.

  • Patrick Lalande

    Marijuana is not a gateway drug. However, the persecution of using it is.
    From the original “shunned by society” to extended prison terms for minor infractions these actions create a marginalized class of people that slowly leads them toward anti-social behaviour and loss of economic opportunities to worse.

    The only real fix for this problem is to stop including Marijuana in the war on drugs and legalize it. Step by step.

    The solution from the article seems to nod toward those concepts and does it within the framework of Texas’ societal framework. I commend them on their enlightened creativity.

  • Riverboat

    When a story about marijuana leads off with “stoners,” I get the sense that most pot users aren’t terribly concerned about political niceties. It’s as if a parade sponsored by the medical groups and judicial reformers were followed by a bunch of glass-eyed dopes with stringy hair.

    And what’s COGNITIVE decision-making? Is that the same thing as “using your head”?

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