Getting caught with marijuana in Dallas will soon no longer guarantee a trip to jail.
The Dallas City Council on Wednesday approved a “cite-and-release” program to ticket people who have fewer than 4 ounces of pot and who are not alleged to have committed any other crime. The policy will take effect Oct. 1.
The 10-5 vote was a reversal for the council. Last year, the same group of members rejected the policy by a 10-5 vote, partially on the recommendation of then-Police Chief David Brown.
Police commanders backed off this time, although the Dallas Police Association and some council members still questioned whether the enforcement rules were wise. But the council’s majority and a group of pastors said the marijuana arrests primarily affect poor minority residents who can ill afford to sit in jail, lose their jobs and wind up stigmatized.
And, they said, taking people to jail for pot possession is a waste of officers’ time and taxpayers’ money.
“If you are taking a young man to jail for possession of marijuana, you are wasting the dollars we gave you, and you are hurting our citizens,” said council member Philip Kingston. “You’re not serving and protecting. You’re harming these young people.”
The 4-ounce threshold is the largest amount that is still a misdemeanor in Texas.
The new enforcement policy does not decriminalize or legalize marijuana as many cities and states have done in recent years. And the policy will apply only in the parts of Dallas inside Dallas County, which will create and administer the summonses. Collin, Rockwall, Kaufman and Denton