The lights come on behind you and you get pulled over by the police. You are not drunk, not high or running from a robbery. However, you know that in your purse, there is a joint and you are panicking that the police will smell the marijuana and you are busted! What are you going to do now that the police are bound to find it?
If you are in Harris County, you will walk away from this situation without going to jail under pretty much most scenarios* with only a piece of paper and having lost a few hours of your evening. How is this possible when it is still against the law in the State of Texas to possess marijuana in any amount?
Have Texas’ Possession of Marijuana Laws Changed?
Contrary to people’s hopes, the law has not changed and may never change in Texas in our lifetime. It is still punishable by jail time, anywhere between 6 months to a year if it’s a misdemeanor amount and more if you are possessing a felony amount of marijuana.
Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program (MMDP)
March 1, 2017 a new program began in Harris County called “Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program” or MMDP, which is being implemented with hopes of diverting these low level pot cases from clogging up the system. The idea is that there are many levels of the process that will be improved by not arresting people with small amounts of marijuana and rather allowing them to participate in this diversion program. It will save the taxpayers money and allow such funds to be spent on more serious offenders.
The basics of the program go like this:
- You get stopped with marijuana and have an amount that is either a Class A or B misdemeanor, you may be eligible for this program. Class B is under 2 ounces, Class A is 2-4 ounces. *There are other issues that may prevent you from being eligible such as being on probation or having an open, pending case at the time of the marijuana case, etc…
- Once the police officers determine you are eligible, they will advise you about the program and offer you a letter stating your admission into the program. They will take your information and have you sign your acceptance into the MMDP. You are released with a letter stating what you need to do next to complete the program.
- The MMDP is 90 days and during the 90 days you are agreeing to take a “Cognitive Decision Making” class that costs $150. If you can’t afford it and are indigent, there is a way to prove this to the county to have those costs covered.
That is all you are required to do – no drug testing, no meeting with a probation officer or bond conditions. Once you take the class and the 90 days is over, then the case is not filed. However, if you do not complete the class in the 90 day period, then the understanding is that they will file your case as though you did not sign up for the MMDP.
Our understanding is that this can be given to you as many times as you get caught with marijuana, without limit. Since this is such a new program and will be interpreted as we go along, you can and should consult an attorney if you have any questions.
Were you or someone you know arrested for possessing pot? Contact our law firm for a free initial consultation with an experienced marijuana possession attorney in Houston. We handle many of these cases for first-time and repeat offenders every day.