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Dallas law reduces penalties for marijuana possession

On April 12, the Dallas City Council voted to cite and release those who are found to possess small amounts of marijuana. For an individual to be ticketed under the law, he or she must be in possession of less than four ounces of marijuana, live in Dallas County and not be charged with any other crimes. While Texas law allows other crimes to be covered under a cite and release program, this measure applies to marijuana only.

Supporters of such a measure believe that it would prevent young people and people of color from unfairly being branded as criminals for life. Proponents also say that it could be a step toward solving the recidivism problem in the area. Individuals who are cited as opposed to charged with a felony may have a greater chance of correcting their mistakes and living a higher quality of life.

However, one person on the council wanted the program reexamined as she claimed that there were too many variables. In 2016, police said that there were 432 taken into custody who would have been eligible for cite and release. Authorities say that such a program could save them roughly an hour per call. The program is scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 1.

Those charged with drug possession may face serious consequences such as time behind bars in addition to fines and subsequent probation. It may be in an individual's best interest to talk with an attorney about ways to cast doubt upon the charge. This may be done by arguing that the defendant possessed substances intended for personal use only or was unknowingly in possession of a controlled substance.

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