No arrest for up to 4 ounces of marijuana in Harris County, effective March 1

Beginning March 1, Harris County will no longer arrest individuals in possession of less than four ounces of marijuana.

Beginning March 1, Harris County will no longer arrest individuals in possession of less than four ounces of marijuana.

A new program will go into effect March 1 in Harris County for misdemeanor marijuana possession cases, according to a press release issued by Harris County District Attorney’s office today.


Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg—with support from the Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo—announced the plan Feb. 16 in a press conference. Every law enforcement agency in the county will be participating in the countywide program, the press release stated.


Under the new program, there will be no arrest, citation, charge, jail or record for those caught possessing up to four ounces of marijuana, Harris County officials said. If less than four ounces of cannabis is found on a person, the person will have to take a four-hour educational class within 90 days. Once the class is done, no charge is ever filed.


“This is great news for Harris County,” said Cara Bonin, executive director for the Houston chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “These are people who haven’t necessarily done anything wrong, but people who have possessed something the government doesn’t want them to possess. Cannabis is a natural plant that is far less dangerous than alcohol and has medicinal benefits for many people.”


The program is expected to save Harris County more than $10 million per year by diverting an estimated 12,000 people from the criminal justice system and would save officers hours of processing time spent on misdemeanor marijuana possession cases, the statement said. The new policy will ease the workload on administrators and jailers who transfer and process inmates.


Ogg has championed the program with the goal of reducing the cost burden for taxpayers associated with court costs and administrative processing, the statement said. She said she wants law enforcement to focus more of their resources on protecting Harris County communities from violent criminals, the statement said.


Individuals caught with four ounces or less of marijuana who are on probation, out on bond, caught in a school zone or are juveniles are not eligible for the program.



"Law enforcement should focus on protecting our communities instead of wasting their resources arresting people and ruining their lives over a misdemeanor amount of cannabis,” Bonin said. "Our DA is taking a brave course of action to minimize the detrimental effect that prohibition has on our communities.”

By Julie Butterfield
Julie began freelancing with Community Impact in the summer of 2014. She became a full time reporter for The Woodlands in Oct. 2014. In April 2015 she was promoted to Senior Reporter for The Woodlands. Her coverage area, in additional to The Woodlands, is Shenandoah and Conroe ISD.


MOST RECENT

The county experienced its largest-yet single-day active and total case increases July 14. (Community Impact staff)
Montgomery County sees highest daily active, total COVID-19 case count increases July 14

A total of 359 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths were reported July 14.

Montgomery County Food Bank volunteers welcome and serve residents at a mobile food distribution site in east Montgomery County. (Courtesy Liz Grimm/Montgomery County Food Bank)
Montgomery County Food Bank distribution up 163% from last year

The Montgomery County Food Bank has distributed nearly 3.5 million pounds of food in around four months.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, giving claimants $600 per week, will end July 25. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Federal unemployment payments of $600 per week end July 25

While the added $600 federal unemployment benefits will end, Texans are still eligible for other forms of relief.

Dr. Steven Kelder is a professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health in Austin with a career spanning more than 25 years. (Graphic by Chance Flowers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Disease expert discusses ongoing pandemic and nearing school year

Dr. Steven H. Kelder recently answered several questions for Community Impact Newspaper regarding COVID-19; trends in cases statewide; and important considerations for parents, students and educators as the 2020-21 school year approaches.

Humble ISD announced upcoming graduation ceremonies at George Turner Stadium will be smaller than originally anticipated to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Humble ISD drops high school graduation capacity to 25% to curb spread of coronavirus

Humble ISD announced upcoming graduation ceremonies at George Turner Stadium will be smaller than originally anticipated to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said July 13 that he would like to see a two-week stay-home order in Houston. (Courtesy HTV)
Houston coronavirus updates: Mayor Turner seeking two-week shutdown; 1 in 4 tests coming back positive

Mayor Turner made a series of announcements July 13 related to COVID-19 precautions.

Montgomery County officials are urging residents to wear face masks and take caution. (Community Impact staff)
Montgomery County reports 19 new active coronavirus cases July 13

2,011 people have recovered out of the total 3,112 cases.

Public health officials in Houston and Harris County reported that 2,001 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed July 13, a new single-day record for the county. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 2,001 cases, 8 deaths confirmed July 13

Public health officials in Houston and Harris County reported that 2,001 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed July 13, a new single-day record for the county.

A Cy-Fair ISD employee distributes meals via curbside pickup for district students during the summer. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
'Community Impact Newspaper' seeks feedback and more Houston-area business, community news

Read the latest Houston-area business and community news here.

Thousands of Montgomery County voters appeared in person or submitted absentee ballots during the 10-day early voting period. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than 21,000 Montgomery County residents participate in early voting for July 14 runoff

Just under three-fourths of the total early voting turnout was Republican, and one-fourth was Democratic.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, shown here in March, announced July 13 the U.S. Department of Defense would provide additional resource to help Texas combat COVID-19. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Department of Defense task forces deployed to help Texas combat COVID-19

Gov. Greg Abbott announced July 13 the U.S. Department of Defense would provide more resources to Texas to combat the rise of COVID-19.

A Cy-Fair ISD employee distributes meals via curbside pickup for district students during the summer. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
'Community Impact' now seeking feedback from parents, teachers regarding 2020-21 school year

Help us adequately cover local education by submitting feedback here: