Dallas City Council Could Further Decriminalize Marijuana
Many people might not be aware that the City of Dallas currently has pretty relaxed marijuana laws. In 2017, Dallas moved to a cite-and-release policy on those caught with 4 ounces or less of marijuana, which effectively makes that level of possession the same as a speeding ticket.
The move had multiple considerations behind it, the predictions of a national hemp bill and what changes that could be brought on by it due to the changes to the THC allowances that would impact enforcement. Additionally the city was looking for a way to cut the strain these calls were bringing to the Dallas Police Department and jail overcrowding. This move essentially switched the arraignment process from the jail to a courthouse. The worry about the hemp considerations came to pass with the 2018 Farm Bill, which is discussed here by Texas TV station KSAT...
Even as the city intended to stop sending people to jail for low-level marijuana offenses, Dallas Police continued to book people into the county jail on these charges. The next step was for Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot to implement his own policy, where his office refused to file misdemeanor charges against first time offenders.
Now Dallas City Councilman Adam Bazaldua wants to take it even a step further.
Bazaldua says the current procedures are a waste of tax payer money. Inferring that it is a waste for police to use their time and resources in arresting and jailing suspects who are not even going to be charged.
Under the new proposal, possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana would be decriminalized. Effectively making it so no one would be arrested, cited, or jailed for possessing that amount of marijuana. Bazaldua told The Dallas Morning News that 97% of the marijuana arrests currently taking place in Dallas are for less than 2 ounces.
Dallas wouldn't be the first, or only, Texas city with a similar decriminalization standard. Austin decriminalized the possession of up to 4 ounces of marijuana, Travis County dropped 32 marijuana possession cases earlier this year, while other cities are examining their polices.
At the core of the current movement are the same issues Dallas was originally considering in their first go-around: giving police more time to focus on response time, easing jail and court overcrowding, and the problems with legal hemp. Currently it is very difficult in the state of Texas (or anywhere really) to effectively test the THC difference between legal hemp and illegal marijuana.
No matter what Dallas, or Austin, or any other cities in the state of Texas do, marijuana is still very much illegal across the state.