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Busted for weed in Texas only to get a slap on the wrist

If you had to get busted with almost two ounces of cannabis in Texas, and let’s face it, no one wants to get busted in Texas, Hudspeth County would be your best bet.

Filmmaker Al Reinert knows this first-hand. In the August issue of Texas Monthly, the director of For All Mankind writes about getting busted for possessing 1.7 ounces.

Getting caught by the border patrol checkpoint at Sierra Blanca, he surely had to be worried about what would happen. Luckily for him, they turn over most of their low level marijuana arrests to the the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Department.

What’s so great about this particular department you may ask? It is ran by Sheriff Arvin West, who seems to have little interest in wasting valuable resources on locking up cannabis consumers.

An excerpt from Reinert:

Increasingly over the past ten years, West and his dozen deputies have been overwhelmed by a steady flow of small-time potheads arrested at the checkpoint. In the state of Texas, anything over four ounces is a felony; between two and four ounces is a Class A misdemeanor; and less than two ounces is a Class B misdemeanor. Both misdemeanor charges can result in jail time and the suspension of one’s driver’s license. But that little adobe courthouse couldn’t begin to handle the caseload if the law were truly enforced. Hudspeth County doesn’t even have a full-time prosecutor; it has to bring one over from El Paso twice a month.

West’s solution is to write tickets for possession of “drug paraphernalia,” a Class C misdemeanor that doesn’t require a court appearance and imposes a fine of $500 (plus $27 in “court costs”). The fact that you were caught red-handed with actual pot is conveniently ignored. This paraphernalia ticket is offered to you by a smiling deputy who can get you out of those handcuffs and on your way again if you simply sign for it.

When Reinert asked West what it was like to be the guy who lets low-level marijuana offenders go, West told him, “The last thing in this world I want to be is a pothead hero, but the laws we’ve got now don’t work. Something’s gotta change.”

A lot of border towns have been having trouble keeping up with prosecuting all of the cannabis related cases that come their way.

Thanks to The Atlantic Cities for the heads up on this one.

By: Stephen Carter
Contact Stephen via email at TXCann@gmail.com

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas and serves as Deputy Director for NORML of Waco. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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