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Cite-and-release program could cut marijuana arrests

For residents of Texas, there have been some changes made to marijuana and cannabis possession law. In December 2017, the city of Dallas began implementing a program approved earlier in the year by the City Council that would create a "cite-and-release" system for marijuana possession. The change to the law does not legalize marijuana or even decriminalize cannabis possession, and it doesn't impact government behavior outside the city of Dallas. This means that public purchase and consumption could still lead to arrest or other consequences, but the program can help to avoid jail time.

People in Dallas County in the City of Dallas who are stopped in the area by police for possession of 4 ounces or less of marijuana will be issued a ticket. This ticket will be issued in lieu of an arrest and can be handled with a fine rather than with jail time. In order to receive a ticket rather than an arrest, the person must be at least 17 years of age and not have any convictions or outstanding warrants. A valid Texas state ID or driver's license will be recorded along with the citation.

Marijuana possession remains a Class A or Class B misdemeanor offense; however, the city voted to implement the program in order to cut down on jail time for non-violent offenders arrested for cannabis possession and allow police to respond to emergencies instead. The program does not, however, apply in specially designated "drug-free zones," like the areas around schools or day care centers.

Anyone who is arrested or charged with drug possession or is facing other drug charges is likely to consult with a criminal defense attorney. Whether they have received a citation or have been arrested, a criminal defense attorney may be able to provide important advice and representation to protect a person's liberties and interests when dealing with drug charges in the courts.

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