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OPINION: New Law Brings Sanity To Marijuana Enforcement

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The Texas senate passed a law that went into effect Sept. 1 allowing counties greater discretion in determining how they will enforce marijuana laws.

I think it's about time.

In the interest of complete honesty, I must admit that I don't think marijuana should be illegal. I think it should be decriminalized, controlled and taxed by the federal government.

But since I'm not likely to get my wish anytime soon, I'll settle for what we're getting.

House Bill 2391 allows a county to dictate that officers issue citations for marijuana possession under a certain limit, rather than making an arrest.

Possession of between two and four ounces of marijuana would be considered a class A misdemeanor and possession below two ounces would be a class B misdemeanor, provided the person found in possession is in the county in which they reside.

This means that instead of spending an evening in jail, a person caught with four ounces or less of marijuana would receive a ticket and a court summons. It doesn't make marijuana any more legal, but it does reduce the burden placed on the state for dealing with what is essentially a victimless crime.

Proponents of the bill say that it grants cities and counties the option of determining the best use of their jail facilities and grants them greater control over their own arrest policy.

Supporters further state that arresting a person for a class B misdemeanor requires three to four hours of an officer's time and can cost the public up to $3,000.

This law is especially useful, given that prisons in America are overcrowded, police are overworked - especially in Dallas - and $3,000 is no mean savings.

I don't believe throwing non-violent drug offenders in prison is the best use of space. Prison should be reserved for those who are a danger to others or are doing measurable harm to society. I do not believe that people who keep reasonable amounts of marijuana for personal use do either.

There are caveats to this law, however. H.B. 2391 provides the option for counties and cities to issue citations for possession, but it does not dictate that they must. It is largely up to the District Attorney whether or not a county will take advantage of the law.

Here's where it gets really interesting: UTD straddles two counties. Everything south of drive A is in Dallas County, while everything north of drive A is in Collin County.

So, potentially, a student found in possession of marijuana on the north side of campus could face a night in jail, where if they had been on the south side they would only get a ticket.

I have not been able to find out yet whether either county intends to make use of this opportunity, but I hope that they will.

Of course, UTD's policy regarding possession of a controlled substance would not change, regardless of what Dallas and Collin counties decide to do in regards to the bill.

While the bill does nothing to address my most basic problem with drug policy in the United States, the criminalization of a harmless plant, it is a sane step in the right direction.

I would urge Dallas and Collin counties to take advantage of the bill. There is no reason at all for anyone to spend time in prison for simple possession and there's no reason for police to have to spend their time dealing with people who aren't actually hurting anyone.



News Hawk- User http://www.420Magazine.com
Source: The UTD Mercury
Author: Lee Brown
Contact: The UTD Mercury
Copyright: 2007 The UTD Mercury
Website: New law brings sanity to marijuana enforcement - Opinion
 

DalMonk

New Member
Shame that this gives counties the right to decide whether to enforce absurd marijuana laws or not as I'm sure many of them still will for the sheer hell of it, however for Texas this is a major step forward.
 
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