Marijuana & Controlled Substances

Face it – most Anti-Marijuana “education” comes down to some sort of variation of this:

Hey kids, if you ever give in to temptation and smoke marijuana, you are immediately doomed to a life of shooting up heroin and prostituting yourself for twenty dollars a pop while living under a bridge.

Take for example the

I’ve represented several folks in Austin recently who have been “ticketed” for marijuana possession instead of being arrested. And I wrote about House Bill 2391 which allowed for this back in January.

I’m at home now, and I’ll make sure to run through those files and check tomorrow when I’m back at the office, but I thought some of those clients had been “cited” for possession of marijuana by officers in the Austin Police Department. (The other possibilities are the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Public Safety Troopers, and other various Travis County non-Austin municipal police forces.)


So I was somewhat surprised to see Sunday’s Austin American Statesman article titled and subtitled “Austin police to begin citing, not arresting, some offenders; Plan to be finalized by year’s end, chief says.”:


Marijuana smokers with small amounts of the drug or people driving while their licenses are suspended could soon be spared a trip in the back of a jail-bound Austin police car.


“… could soon be spared…” That was the surprising part – as well as the title which at least implies that Austin police have not yet begun to “ticket” for POM. At any rate, I’ll look through the files, and perhaps post an email to the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers Association listserv to poll people on whether APD has actually already put this into effect. Maybe the “ticket” POM cases I’ve been getting have been other agencies.


So, enough of the digression, and back to the title of my post… Several others in the local Austin blogosphere have commented on this story already. Scott Henson notes, among other things, that the Williamson County District Attorney is quoted in the article disparaging the new marijuana arrest vs. “citation” policy option:


However, critics, including Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley, said the law "sends the exact opposite signal" law enforcement officials should want to give offenders. "My thoughts are that the entire process is a very creative way to decriminalize how we prosecute drug cases in Texas," Bradley said.


Scott’s response?


I honestly have no clue what John Bradley is talking about. This change doesn’t "decriminalize" anything. The offense charged is still a B misdemeanor with the full range of punishment options available upon conviction. That kind of overhyped rhetoric seems misplaced here.


Of course Scott is right. The reason I put quotation marks around the words ticket and citation in the post so far is that while House Bill 2391 allows police agencies to not take up their valuable time carting a person away to the jail for marijuana possession, the penalty remains the same. From my January post:


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