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Texas trends towards no longer prosecuting petty drug possession

In 2015, 78% of people convicted of felony drug possession in Texas possessed less than one gram. In other words, for possessing drugs amounting to less than the weight of a paperclip, people have gone to prison. The bulk of narcotics prosecutions in Texas consist of petty drug amounts like these, but that could change due to the efforts of prosecutors instituting new policies under which they will not prosecute petty pot possession or trace amounts of hard drugs.

The most recent prosecutor to announce such a policy change is the district attorney of Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, who was recently elected to the post. In the announcement, the district attorney said that his office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession of less than an ounce or trace amounts, i.e., those less than 0.25 grams, of methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin or other narcotics.

Law enforcement opposes the decision, saying that it limits their ability to obtain information from persons of interest and invalidates their efforts. Nevertheless, a spokesperson from the district attorney’s office says that the new policy will divert resources from low-conviction drug cases involving small quantities to focus them instead on violent crime.

The announcement from the Bexar County district attorney follows similar actions by two other statewide compatriots last month. The district attorneys from Travis County and Dallas County each expressed intentions to stop prosecuting trace amounts of drugs under 0.01 grams, with the Dallas County DA going so far as to cease prosecuting first-time marijuana offenses.

Only time will tell whether more Texas prosecutors will follow the trend, but in the meantime, those facing drug charges may find it helpful to contact an attorney.