In two weeks, the Houston Police Department will have to try a little harder to catch Houstonians riding dirty: starting Mar. 1, possession of less than four ounces of marijuana will no longer get you arrested, ticketed, or taken to jail.
Coming through on her campaign promises, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced the Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program on Thursday, giving certain offenders the option to take a four-hour, $150 course on decision-making instead of facing prosecution.
“At 107,000 cases over the last ten years, we have spent in excess of $250 million dollars collectively prosecuting a crime that has produced no tangible evidence of improved public safety,” Ogg said a press conference on the MMDP with Mayor Sylvester Turner, Police Chief Art Acevedo, and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez by her side. “Additionally, the collateral damage to our workforce is immeasurable — because what we have done is we have disqualified, unnecessarily, thousands of people from greater job, housing and education opportunities by giving them a criminal record for what is in effect a minor law violation.”
According to two Houston consumers who chose to remain anonymous, two ounces of “quality” marijuana is estimated to cost “around $500,” but the two said they usually purchase approximately $150 at a time, “roughly every two weeks.” The medical resident and corporate accountant, respectively, described four ounces as, “more than (they’ve) ever seen in (their) live(s),” and neither could think of anyone they knew who would purchase or possess $1,000 of marijuana at a given time. The two said they would not go on record because of fear of professional repercussions, but attested to smoking almost every day.
Neighboring county officials, like Montgomery County DA Brett Ligon, took the opportunity to respond to the announcement by reiterating their deniers’ positions on pot.
“Unlike Harris County, Montgomery County will not become a sanctuary for dope smokers,” Ligon’s press release read.
We’ll see. In the meantime, be sure you familiarize yourself with a map of Harris County to stay on your side of the law.
Chamillionaire could not be reached for comment, but is from Houston, in case you forgot.