Starting last month, all Texas Department of Public Safety officers instructed to only issue a citation for people with a small amount of marijuana, this comes after the new hemp law was passed this year causing confusion and agitation among law enforcement. Effective immediately, DPS will cite and release any person with less than 4 ounces of suspected marijuana. The citation requires a person to appear in court and face their criminal charges, an action that the Cameron County District Attorney applauds. “In fact, I had been preaching that direction for over a year now with law-enforcement here in Cameron County it’s a very practical approach,” said CCDA Luis Saenz. Prosecutors also want to make it clear that those issued a citation still face the same penalties if convicted which could be up to a year in jail and fine of $4,000. “It’s not the possession it’s the smoking of the marijuana and getting behind the wheel of a car, that’s no different than a DWI that’s no different than being intoxicated,” Saenz said. However, there are restrictions in the policy, marijuana found during traffic stops outside of a person’s home county, would still result in an arrest. “We’re just trying to use our law-enforcement in the most effective way that we can and I think this is a good move in that direction,” he said. At this point it is unclear how much the new policy will impact marijuana prosecutions statewide. According to DPS statistics given to officials this year, law enforcement officers arrested about 86,000 people on misdemeanor marijuana charges in 2016.
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