HOUSTON, TX — It’s predicted to save Harris County $26 million a year, and it goes into effect today.
From now on, if you are caught in possession of four ounces or less of marijuana, you will be given the option of attending a four-hour drug-education course — it will cost you $150 — and you won’t serve any time, miss work, or pay a lawyer.
“When you have 10,000 cases on a 100,000-plus case docket that are simple marijuana possession cases, you look for smart ways to resolve those so that you can dedicate your resources to the really serious crimes,” Tom Berg, Harris County’s first assistant district attorney, told The Huffington Post.
One note: Keep in mind that minors are not eligible for the program, and you will still be subject to arrest if you are caught with marijuana in a school zone or in conjunction with other criminal behavior.
The “cite-and-release” policy comes into existence as Kim Ogg, the new district attorney, and Ed Gonzalez, the new sheriff, both Democrats, take command in Harris County. Both ran on platforms that included an overhaul of law-enforcement policies, including penalties for drug possession.
“I would venture to say that the plan for Harris County, as Ogg has presented it, edges toward the more progressive end,” Katharine Neill, the Glassell Fellow in Drug Policy at Rice’s Baker Institute, told the Houston Chronicle.
Miriam Krinsky, a board member of Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project, told the Chronicle that the new approach is one of the