Dallas City Council approves marijuana cite and release
The Dallas City Council has voted to institute a cite and release measure which would see those with four ounces or less no longer arrested. Instead they will receive a court summons.
This does not change the penalty for possession, but will save time for both officers and offenders.
Current Texas law prescribes a $2,000 fine, up to 180 days in jail, and a mandatory six month driver’s license suspension for those with two ounces or less. Those found with between two and four ounces face a fine of $4,000 and a year in jail. A suspension of driver’s license is required upon any drug conviction, even if no vehicle was involved.
The proposal passed on a 10-5 vote.
Those voting in favor include Mayor Pro Tem Monica R. Alonzo, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Erik WIlson, Adam Medrano, Carolyn King Arnold, Casey Thomas II, Lee Kleinman, Mark Clayton, Philip Kingston, Scott Griggs, and Tiffinni A. Young.
Opposed were Mayor Michael Rawlings, B. Adam McGough, Jennifer S. Gates,, Rick Callahan, and Sandy Greyson.
Shaun McAlister, the executive director for the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (DFW NORML), says that they are pleased with the city council’s decision.
“We hear a lot about ‘baby steps’ when it comes to marijuana law reform, and while cite and release in Dallas is just a baby step for Texas, it is most certainly a baby step in the right direction,” McAlister states. “Now that Dallas City Council has our hope that other cities within the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, and across the entire state, continue to do the same thing. Additionally, we at DFW NORML will continue to urge all north Texans to contact their elected representatives and urge them to support Joe Moody’s House Bill 81 to officially decriminalize marijuana in the Lone Star State.”
HB 81 would make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a $250 fine.
DFW NORML hopes that raise even more awareness about the need to reform marijuana laws. The group will be holding a rally at Burk Burnett Park and then march through downtown Fort Worth next month on Saturday, May 6. The organization has bought a billboard along I35 and Rosedale, which will receive an estimated 2.5 million impressions. They will also be doing a banner drop on April 20 to promote the event as well.
To qualify for the new cite and release program, a person must be at least 17 years old, have a valid ID, and have no prior convictions. This will only apply to those living within the City of Dallas.
The program will go into effect starting in October.