Dallas Police Chief: Cite and Release for marijuana ‘just so damn practical’
Each month 100-120 people are arrested for marijuana in Dallas. The city is now considering making use of a cite and release law passed by state legislators in 2007.
That law allows agencies who choose to participate, to give people who are caught with small amounts of marijuana a court summons instead of immediately arresting them. This is aimed at saving officers time that would normally be spent booking offenders into jail.
It would not however alter the penalty for possession, which is currently punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of $2000 for less than two ounces.
This is different from the program that has been rolled out in Houston. Put in place by Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, first time offenders who have less than an ounce can go through a diversion program which involves no arrest record, and no charges filed so long as the program is successfully completed.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown says he has mixed feelings about writing tickets instead of making arrests when people are caught with small amounts of marijuana according to the Dallas Morning News.
However he said the approach is “just so damn practical.”
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 the policy implementation is long overdue, especially given that it has already been successfully implemented elsewhere.
“This is a meaningful step in the right direction for Texans that will hopefully pave the way for even more sensible reform in the future, both on local and state levels, but it’s hardly the end of the overall discussion of marijuana policy in this state,” McAlister says.
Roughly 78,000 people each year are arrested for marijuana in Texas, and 97% of those are for simple possession. It’s estimated that each marijuana arrest costs tax payers $10,000.