Published: Mar 14, 2017, 4:03 pm • Updated: Mar 14, 2017, 4:03 pm
Via The Associated Press. The following appeared in the Dallas Morning News.
After a wave of marijuana referendums passed throughout the nation in November, the U.S. now has 29 states that allow some form of legal marijuana — covering 1 in 5 Americans.
Texas, of course, is not among them. But progress is coming at the local level.
Since 2007, state law has allowed municipalities, if they so choose, to issue written citations — the equivalent of a traffic ticket — for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
Just last year, Dallas tried to embrace this commonsense “cite and release” policy — and failed. Let’s hope Houston’s new efforts fare better.
Effective March 1, the city decriminalized possession of up to 4 ounces of marijuana. Houston’s policy goes beyond simple cite-and-release. Instead, officers will simply confiscate the drugs if the suspect agrees to take a four-hour drug education class. No arrests, no tickets, no appearances in court.
Why make the move? Officials are persuaded that the new policy will improve public safety and save taxpayer dollars.
Over the last decade, Houston District Attorney Kim Ogg explained, “we have spent in excess of $250 million, over a quarter-billion dollars, prosecuting a crime that has produced no tangible evidence of improved public safety.” Now, that time and money can be used to address more pressing issues — like robbery, sexual assault, murder.
Those are the financial and safety arguments —