hays county

Texas: Marijuana Possession Could Soon Get Tickets, Not Arrests, In Dallas

TexasMarijuanaFlag[AustinCountyNewsOnline]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said he has mixed feelings about allowing his officers to write tickets instead of arresting people who are caught with small amounts of marijuana. But he said the approach is "just so damn practical."

Police officers and city council members discussed the move at Tuesday's public safety committee meeting of the Dallas City Council, reports Melissa Repko at The Dallas Morning News. The "cite and release" pilot program would mean citations for marijuana possession, rather than arrests.

The public safety committee voted to refer the idea to the entire City Council without a recommendation.

A Texas state law passed in 2007 allows cops to issue citations instead of making arrests for some minor offenses, including possession of small amounts of cannabis. The approach is intended to save time and money by keeping minor offenders out of jail and allowing cops to remain on the streets; it doesn't change the official penalty for the crime.

Using cite and release is a "no brainer" that would help save time and lower 911 call response times, said council member Philip Kingston. He said it would allow cops to focus on public safety priorities.

Kingston said he'd legalized marijuana if he could, comparing marijuana possession to jay-walking in terms of seriousness.

Texas: Dallas County To Experiment With Not Arresting People Caught With Weed

DallasMarijuanaMarch10-18-14

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

People caught with small amounts of marijuana in Dallas may soon be able to avoid going to jail.

County criminal justice officials will pilot a cite-and-release program early next year allowing those caught with less than two ounces of marijuana, a Class B misdmeanor, avoid a trip to jail, reports Matthew Watkins at The Dallas Morning News.

If applied countywide, the change in enforcement policy could result in hundreds fewer arrests each month. The goal, according to officials, is to reduce jail crowding and free up police resources.

"This is about not toying up officers and bringing them back out onto the street," said Ron Stretcher, director of criminal justice for Dallas County.

A Texas law enacted back in 2007 makes the ticket approach possible. The measure, which received little attention when it passed, has been largely ignored since.

The the idea has gained support in recent years, and not just from marijuana advocates. Some conservatives have touted it as a way to save law enforcement money. It costs about $63 a day to house an inmate in the Dallas County Jail.

But the measure is getting some predictable resistance from law enforcement. Dallas Police Association President Ron Pinkston said he'd rather see the Legislature address changes in marijuana laws at the state level; police officers should enforce the laws that are on the books, he said.

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