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San Antonio Officials Consider Marijuana Decriminalization

The penalty for marijuana possession could be more “like a traffic ticket” than a misdemeanor.

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Officials in San Antonio, Texas are debating a new program that would do away with criminal charges against residents busted possessing small amounts of marijuana. In nearby Harris County, officials have already instituted a similar program, where anyone caught with a small amount of weed can take a “decision-making” class and pay a $150 fine instead of being arrested.

Currently, the Texas Controlled Substances Act mandates that the possession of two ounces or less of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and six months in jail. In 2015, over 60,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in Texas. In Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, 2,477 people were arrested for possessing less than two ounces of weed in 2016.

Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood said that he would be open to working on a program like Harris County's, where those caught with pot would receive a summons to court “like a traffic ticket.” The offender would then be able to contest the ticket or enter a program.

"That's more pragmatic," LaHood said. "That's something I've been thinking about for awhile." The district attorney would discuss the new program with city officials as well as the San Antonio Police Department before moving ahead with implementation.

City councilman Roberto Treviño said that he would be interested in seeing how marijuana decriminalization would affect San Antonio's large military community. "I think we need to have broader discussions about marijuana and what it means," he said, adding that he thinks that natural remedies like marijuana would be more effective for wounded soldiers than a "cocktail version of pain killers."