Beginning January 1st, the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis will no longer be a criminal charge in Harris County, the most populous county in Texas and the third most populous county in the United States, District Attorney Devon Anderson announced today.
According to Anderson, when someone is caught possessing up to two ounces of cannabis for the first time, police officers will be mandated to offer a diversion program rather than arresting them and charging them with a misdemeanor that’s punishable by up to 180 days in jail.
“It frees up space in jail”, says Anderson. “It minimizes the administrative burden that officers face when filing charges. It reduces the cost for prosecution and court proceedings. And of course, it gives the offender an opportunity to have a completely clean record”.
Anderson said that although the change only effects first time offenders, that may change in the future to also include repeat offenders.