Under the program, starting Dec. 1, Dallas residents and tourists who possess four ounces or less of cannabis will no longer have to be booked overnight in jail; instead, they will receive a summons to attend court at a future date.
While the person charged with possession may not have to spend the night in jail, the possibility of jail time is not off table, as the level of offense has not changed in Dallas County. The citation is not a ticket or fine, and the person will still face charges on the assigned court date.
The program was originally approved in April and slated to begin on the first day of October, but it was postponed after county commissioners were apprehensive about how the new program would be administered.
District Attorney Faith Johnson revealed that all “first-time misdemeanor marijuana offenders” will get the chance to have their case dismissed, as well as be eligible to have the offence expunged from their record, but they will have to complete a list of several requirements to be granted this option.
“While the idea of unilaterally decriminalizing marijuana is increasingly gaining popularity and support around the country, I believe that such a decision rests with the legislature, not my office,” Johnson said.
While Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price opposed the program, the Commissioners Court still voted 4-1 to put the program into effect.