Is Marijuana Legal in Houston?
Is Marijuana Legal in Houston?
Last week, the Harris County District Attorney's Office released information about their Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program (MMDP), which would effectively decriminalize low-level marijuana possession in Harris County.
Although the MMDP is not effective until March 1, 2017, news of the program spread quickly throughout Houston, Harris County, and all of Texas. While the program will allow law enforcement and prosecutors to focus more on dangerous criminals, news of the program has also led to some erroneous information.
The Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program does not legalize marijuana. Marijuana is still illegal in Texas. If you have been arrested or otherwise detained and facing any criminal charges in Harris County, including marijuana possession, drug possession, DUI, it is important to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney about your specific case.
Harris County's New Marijuana Policy
The MMDP is a diversion program or a program which allows eligible persons to receive a "pre-charge" rather than being formally charged and arrested with a criminal offense if the alleged offender is found in possession of up to 4 ounces of marijuana.
The Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program is a voluntary program which allows an individual to avoid arrest, jail, booking, and the filing of criminal charges.
Under the new marijuana policy, eligible individuals must complete a 90-day program and complete a 4-hour "Cognitive Decision Making" class within 90 calendar days of detention. The cost of the course is $150. The fee for the course will be waived for indigent individuals or persons unable to pay.
Who is Eligible for Marijuana Diversion in Houston, Texas?
While the MMDP is an amazing program, it is important to understand whether you qualify for the program. The program is available only to a small limited group. The following individuals are eligible for the Harris County marijuana diversion program:
- Is an adult, over the age of 17;
- Is detained or arrested for possession of marijuana (Class A & B)
- Possesses sufficient identifying information at the time of detention or arrest according to the intervening law enforcement agency's policy;
- Has no additional criminal, charges arising out of the instant detention other than Class C misdemeanor tickets;
- Has no outstanding warrants;
- Is a Concealed Handgun License Holder; and/or
- Is not on bond, deferred adjudication or probation in Harris County or another jurisdiction for any offense other than a Class C offense.
The MMDP applies to misdemeanor marijuana possession only. If an individual is suspected of another criminal offense while in possession of low-levels of marijuana, he or she will still be charged with the additional crimes. For example, if an individual is found in possession of a firearm without a valid permit, he or she could still be charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon.
Will I still be arrested for Marijuana Possession in Harris County, Texas?
A person is not eligible to participate in the MMDP program if he or she:
- Is on bond, deferred adjudication or probation in Harris County or another jurisdiction for any offense other than a Class C offense;
- Possesses marijuana with the intent to deliver will be arrested and charged with that crime;
- Is in possession of a concealed handgun and marijuana3; in such instances, the Offender will be charged with Unlawfully Carrying A Weapon only; the marijuana will be tagged as evidence;
- Possesses a misdemeanor amount of marijuana in a “drug free zone;”
- Possesses a misdemeanor amount of marijuana in a corrections facility; or
- Is currently in the MMDP Program 90-day program period, prior to completion of the program.
Houston Marijuana Crime Defense Attorney
Tatiauna Holland is a Houston-based criminal defense attorney and managing attorney of the Holland Law Firm, PLLC. With locations in Houston and Conroe, Texas, the Holland Law Firm, PLLC proudly defends individuals facing misdemeanor and felony offenses throughout Harris and Montgomery Counties.
If you have been suspected or charged with any criminal offense, including marijuana possession or drug possession, contact the Holland Law Firm, PLLC at (936) 539-6882 to schedule a confidential consultation.
Where Can I Learn More About Harris County's New Marijuana Policy?
The aforementioned information is for educational purposes only. It is important to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney regarding specific questions or your case (if you are facing criminal charges).