Dallas ‘Cite and Release' Policy Goes Into Effect Friday for Small Amounts of Marijuana

The Dallas County district attorney hosted a community forum Tuesday night to explain the new "Cite and Release" program set to begin in the city of Dallas on Friday.

The policy, permitted by a 2007 state law, allows those found with small amounts of marijuana to avoid going straight to jail.

"This will not change the criminality of possession of marijuana at all," said Dallas Assistant Police Chief Gary Tittle.

Unless someone has an outstanding warrant or is violating probation by having illegal drugs, Dallas police officers and other law enforcement officers operating within the city limits of Dallas will be allowed to issue a court summons to Dallas County residents found with four ounces or less of marijuana.

"It is most definitely not a fine," Tittle said. "Same penalty, same accountability — nothing changes. Again, just for that particular night, we do not place that individual in jail."

"If a person is put in for a small amount, loses their job, we've actually done more harm than good," said Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

Those who receive citations will still need to show up in court, and could still face jail time if convicted.

An arrest warrant will be issued for anyone who does not make their court appearance.

A new, two-month treatment program offered by the Dallas County District Attorney's office will allow those convicted to avoid jail time.

"A lot of people, I'll say, obviously smoke weed," said Tigist Solomon, of Dallas, who attended Tuesday's forum.

"Right now they get caught with weed, they're going to jail," Solomon said. "So there are a lot of people in jail behind (for) minor crimes, so definitely this will help."

Dallas is the only city in Dallas County participating in the program, so anyone found with even small amounts of marijuana in other cities can still be arrested.

But now, those taken to the Dallas County jail for misdemeanor marijuana possession will be released on a personal recognizance bond.

Houston, San Antonio and Austin have similar programs.

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