Houston: We have NO problem with sensible marijuana reform.
Potentially saving Harris County millions of dollars annually, a new policy set to begin March 1, 2017, will decriminalize the possession of less than 4 ounces of marijuana in the City of Houston and its surrounding county.
Set to roll out the specifics of their plan this morning, the Harris County DA, along with Houston’s Mayor and Police Chief, will drill down on the details of their new plan to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession by early spring.
Elected chiefly on her marijuana reform platform, the new Harris County District Attorney, (D) Kim Ogg, trounced the Republican incumbent Devon Anderson last November, based on Ogg’s promise to rein in senseless arrests for low-level marijuana infractions in the greater Houston area.
Rather than wasting valuable resources on personal possession cases, Ogg’s plan calls for misdemeanor offenders caught with less than 4 ounces of cannabis take a four-hour drug class in lieu of being arrested, ticketed or required to appear in court.
By diverting Harris County’s 12,000 annual marijuana infractions away from their costly judicial system, DA Ogg’s plan is anticipated to save the county “more than $10 million a year,” according to Chron.com.
“Since there is no arrest, there is no arrest record. Since there is no court date, there are no court documents connected to the encounter. The plan calls for officers to seize the marijuana and drop it off at a police station at the end of their shift, along with a record of the encounter in case the suspect does not take the class.”
According to Jason Miller, the Communication Director of Houston NORML, this progressive change will ultimately protect Harris County’s citizens and coffers from senseless and costly police activity. “What we’re seeing is misdemeanor possession cases are no longer going to involve jail time, a criminal record, or an arrest. This is great for the community, because people are no longer going to be clogging up the courts and law enforcement resources with small possession cases. These are people who haven’t done anything wrong.”
From the Harris County Sheriff’s perspective, the DA’s new policy will save roughly 120 hours of annual paperwork in the processing of these low-level marijuana infractions, according to officials. “We’re really encouraged by these swift actions by the district attorney and we are looking forward to working with Harris County’s criminal justice leadership identifying common-sense solutions to our broken criminal justice system.”
Congratulations to the residents of Harris County, Texas! Welcome to the new reality of law enforcement in the 21st century – where simple marijuana possession is no big deal.