It’s a new day for small-time pot smokers in Houston’s Harris County. A new policy that went into effect at midnight last night will allow people caught with up to four ounces of marijuana to avoid arrest or jail time by taking a four-hour drug-education class, the Houston Chronicle reports. The policy announced by District Attorney Kim Ogg is expected to save more than $25 million in costs for the jail, courts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, lab testing and officers’ time.
Under the new policy, law enforcement officers who find probable cause to arrest someone with fewer than four ounces of marijuana will confiscate the drugs and have the person sign a contract promising to take the drug education class. If the offenders complete the class, the drugs are destroyed, the contract is filed away and there remains neither an arrest nor court record. If they don’t, an arrest warrant will be issued and a regular criminal case filed. The program leaves no paper trail for offenders and encompasses up one-fourth of a pound of marijuana, which would fill about two sandwich bags.