Harris Co. DA Expands Marijuana Diversion Program

Beginning next month, being caught with four ounces or less of marijuana in Harris County may not mean jail time for possession.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Thurdsday she is expanding current policy for a diversion program, increasing the amount of marijuana from two ounces to four. 

Offenders could avoid incarceration and drug charges on their permanent record by completing a four-hour course and paying a $150 fine within 90 days.

“If you fail to take the class and fulfill your obligations that you've promised the officer and our office that you would complete, then an arrest warrant will be issued and you will be arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana,” said Ogg.

However, not everyone will get off scot-free.

“Offenders who possess marijuana in drug-free zones around schools will continue to be prosecuted, those who possess it at correction facilitiies will continue to be prosecuted,” Ogg added.

The Harris County sheriff, mayor and police chief in Houston all support Ogg's program.

While weed may be illegal in Texas, legal expert Chris Tritico says state law gives the DA discretion on how to enforce it.

“She's not refusing to enforce it, she's using an innovative way to enforce a law that up to today has been clogging our jail and clogging our court system,” says Tritico.

“Anyone that she has probable cause to charge, she has discretion on how she deals with, and so giving them a pre-trial diversion is clearly within her jurisdiction.”

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