It’s not decriminalization, but starting October 6 and ending in mid-April if you’re caught with up to two ounces of herb in Houston (or all of Harris County), you’re a non-violent offender and it’s your first time being busted, you won’t face any criminal charges so long as you complete eight hours of community service or an eight-hour drug course.
Oh, but you’ll still have to go through the humiliation of being arrested.
In a city of millions, it could mean a lot fewer pot convictions (and a lot cleaner parks) – at least for the next six months until the “pilot” program ends. See, according to the DA’s office, Houston’s biggest problem isn’t someone with personal amounts of pot. Nope. The city’s real criminal problem is actual crime, like assault, rape and murder. The idea, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson says, is to free up police time to go after said real criminals.
“Our goal is to keep these individuals from entering the revolving door of the criminal justice system,” Anderson told KHOU yesterday. “What we’re doing is honing our resources. The people we need to use our resources for are the ones who are raping, robbing, killing us, breaking into our houses, hurting us.”
Not that she wants this to be an easy, get-out-of-jail-free card either. He says those caught with pot will still be handcuffed, thrown in the back of a police car, dragged down the station and fingerprinted before being offered the program. If you agree, you’ll have a certain amount of time to complete the community service or classes. If you fail to do that, there will be a warrant out for your arrest
So, really, the supposed goal of freeing up police time won’t be accomplished at all. Cops are still going to be wasting man-hours processing people for pot instead of going after actual criminals.
Anderson, who is up for reelection, seems to have flip-flopped from a completely anti-pot stance according to Democrat contender for Harris County District Attorney, Kim Ogg. Ogg points out that she proposed a similar plan months ago. Ogg says she has offered a similar plan to eliminate criminal backgrounds for pot through community service.
“This is not a new plan,” Ogg told the Houston Chronicle. “It’s a ‘me too’ program by a candidate who has shifted her position with the winds of political change.”