Pierre Andre Euzarraga, who said he supports the First Chance program, has been advocating for the legalization of marijuana in Texas. He frequently speaks in support of legalization at El Paso County Commissioners Court and El Paso City Council meetings.(Photo: PHOTO BY MARIA CORTES GONZALEZ/EL PASO TIMES)Buy Photo
Story Highlights Majority of marijuana cases are under a 1/4 of an ounce
Starting as early as next month, first offenders who are caught with 4 ounces or less of marijuana in El Paso County could face community service hours instead of criminal charges.
The program, called First Chance, will only apply to the sole misdemeanor charge of marijuana. People who are caught with marijuana in addition to another charge will not qualify.
El Paso County Commissioners on Monday unanimously approved the program presented by District Attorney Jaime Esparza.
“The majority of the cases we get are much less than 2 ounces — very small amounts of marijuana that we are dealing with,” Esparza said.
El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza presents the First Chance program to County Commissioners Monday. (Photo: PHOTO BY MARIA CORTES GONZALEZ/EL PASO TIMES)
Esparza said there were more than 2,600 cases of possession under 2 ounces in 2016, with the majority of those arrested being 25 years of age or younger.
“Of those 2,600 cases, we have 700 people who we would classify as first offenders,” he said. “These are