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Dallas Starting to Decriminalize Pot

The new measure will allow people caught will small amounts of marijuana to avoid going immediately to jail. Instead, those caught with weed will be fingerprinted and given a summons for a court date.

Dallas County Commissioners Have Voted 4 to 1 to Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

DALLAS – Dallas County Commissioners have voted 4 to 1 to allow a program that decriminalizes marijuana possession. The new program is called “cite and release,” according to The Dallas Morning News.

The new measure will allow people caught will small amounts of marijuana to avoid going immediately to jail. Instead, those caught with weed will be fingerprinted and given a summons for a court date.

Those who show up at their court date will have to take a mug shot and be fingerprinted again. They will then see the judge and be set up with a lawyer for another court date. At that time, the DA will handle the case as usual. Those who miss the initial court date will have an arrest warrant against them signed by a judge.

Supporter Howie Darter said that "Cite and release is not about politics, not about process, not about legalization. It's about how we as a society value a person's life and not have their life destroyed for making a simple mistake."

People caught with less than 4 ounces of cannabis will be issued a summons by Dallas police officers instead of being arrested. The average number of people arrested for small amounts of marijuana possession in Dallas in 77.

The program will save money on incarceration as well as allow police to focus on violent crime. Texas cities Austin, Houston and San Antonio also have cite and release laws for marijuana possession and other misdemeanors. The program will be in effect starting Dec. 1.

The first medical marijuana license was issued Sept. 1 in Texas, two years after the Compassionate Use Act was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2015. Only patients with intractable epilepsy will be eligible. Dispensaries hope to open in 2018 and will only sell cannabidiol for patients with epilepsy.

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