Texas legislators are reluctant to ease up on punishing small-time pot smokers, but local prosecutors across the state are increasingly looking for ways to keep two-bit toking cases from clogging court dockets and wasting resources, reports the Texas Tribune. Seven bills that would have reduced criminal penalties for minor marijuana possession went up in smoke this year. Some prosecutors are choosing to pass on even filing charges when it comes to small pot possession, or looking for ways to divert recreational users to probation or community service programs. “The only people who do jail time for marijuana are the people who want to do jail time for marijuana,” said Shannon Edmonds of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.
Two years ago, Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz said any marijuana case involving less than one-third of an ounce would never see the inside of a prosecutor’s office. “I’m not condoning it,” Saenz said of marijuana use. But prosecuting someone over such a small amount of dope just doesn’t make any sense, he said, considering how many police officers and court personnel must work to get that case to trial. All of that effort, for what is now a Class B misdemeanor. The result is much-needed relief for court personnel. There’s been a 57 percent drop in misdemeanor marijuana court filings for Cameron County. “There’s almost no value to the state [prosecutors] or the defense to try a Class B marijuana case,” Edmonds said.