Dallas DA Says He Will No Longer Prosecute First Time Cannabis Offenses

Newly minted District Attorney John Creuzot (D) instated a number of changes to the way cannabis crimes are prosecuted in Dallas County. In some cases, marijuana crimes won't be prosecuted at all under the new regulations. First-time offenders of a marijuana possession misdemeanor will be let off with a warning. Repeat offenders will "be offered a program that, if successfully completed, will keep their record clear." Additionally, no one caught with "trace amounts" of a drug (classified as less than .01 grams) will be prosecuted.

Creuzot was elected to the DA's office on a platform of social justice reform and a promise to work towards "ending mass incarceration in Dallas County." Some 67,000 people move through the Dallas County jail in a year—a number Creuzot has pledged to reduce by one fifth within his first term in office.

Creuzot called his new regulations a first step towards that goal and a means to improve a criminal justice system that unfairly targets people of color and those without financial means.

"The criminal justice system has fallen disproportionately harshly on poor people and people of color, that's just a fact," Creuzot told the Texas Observer. "The entire system is complicit in this dysfunction. We're doing what we can within this office to address some of that."

Leading up to the implementation of these new regulations, Creuzot said had already dismissed over 1,000 misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession that were filed before he took office.

Along with the changes being made to cannabis prosecution, Creuzot has also introduced a number of other reforms intended to improve the fairness of Dallas County's criminal justice system. These changes include reducing the county's reliance on a cash bail system and dismissing trespassing charges against individuals who are clearly homeless.

Creuzot's regulations are similar to the ones implemented by the district attorney of Harris County in 2017. This means Texas' two largest counties are no longer prosecuting minor cannabis crimes. Hopefully this will help push wider marijuana reforms on the state level in the not-too-distant future as well.

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