The new police chief, district attorney and sheriff in Houston Texas are all in agreement that it is time to stop arresting people caught with small amounts of pot.
This softer tone marks a dramatic shift in the way marijuana laws will now be enforced locally.
When Houston’s newly-elected district attorney Kim Ogg was officially sworn in this week, she reiterated the views she expressed on marijuana prosecution during her campaign.
“All misdemeanor possession of marijuana cases will be diverted around jail,” Ogg said during her comments from the podium at her swearing in ceremony.
Elected on a platform that included marijuana and drug law reform, the new DA told KHOU 11 News she intends to keep her campaign promises to ensure misdemeanor pot possession suspects don’t end up in jail.
“Today’s the day we come charging out of the gate with the reforms we promised,” she said. “That’s what we intend to deliver and that’s where I want to focus and our resources to be directed.”
Ogg has said she can save taxpayers millions of dollars by not arresting and jailing potheads caught with less than four ounces of marijuana. Instead, she wants to focus on violent criminals.
“I never felt it was fair to put users in jails with murderers,” said Ogg on a local ABC affiliate.
And the new DA is not alone.
Houston’s new sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, expressed support for the plan, as did Houston’s new police chief Art Acevedo who also voiced support for marijuana law reform.
Speaking on a local radio program, Acevedo said he sees Texas moving toward acceptance of marijuana and that he’d prefer to focus on the “bigwigs.”
“For those that are involved in the violence of the drug trade, that’s who I want to focus on,” he said. “I want to focus on the people that are the big movers and shakers that are poisoning young people.”
The police chief also said he would like to implement a program he used in Austin, where he served as police chief before coming to Houston. It focused on giving low-level, street-corner drug dealers a second chance.
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