Plano PD is no longer arresting most people caught with less than 2 ounces of marijuana.
Chief of Police, Ed Drain ordered his officers to no arrest for Class B Marijuana Possession “except” in cases where the suspect is also being charged with a gun-related offense.
Instead of being taken into custody, officers can give out tickets for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, which is under a Class C Misdemeanor.
“With this policy change, offenders are still accountable for small amounts of marijuana, except the accountability has changed from the county courts to the municipal courts,” the Plano Police Department said.
Plano PD says this change comes after the 2019 law that legalized hemp in the State of Texas.
After police arrest someone suspected of having marijuana in their possession, the evidence needs to then be tested to determine if its content tests positive for THC before the case can be prosecuted.
However, local police departments are responsible to pay for those tests in misdemeanor cases.
“Marijuana arrests in Plano were down considerably in 2020 to help relieve jail overcrowding due to the pandemic. Should marijuana arrests in Plano return to post-pandemic levels, the cost for testing marijuana would be in the rage of $35,000 – $40,000 annually,” Plano PD said.
Chief Drain says he is hoping this change will assist with the disparity in recent arrest data.
Drain said there are way more Black people arrested in Plano for Possession of small amounts of marijuana than any other race, even with national drug use surveys showing all races use marijuana at a similar rate.
Dallas County has a similar policy released in 2017 for people caught with less than 4 ounces of marijuana in an attempt to save taxpayers money and utilize officers on duty for more serious crimes.
With hemp being legalized in the State of Texas, Dallas started to push to decriminalize less than 2 ounces of marijuana in the city because the new law made it awfully expensive for municipalities to prosecute those possessions charges.
Austin and other cities in Texas have already began decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.