Pot Vote

Dallas says yes to cite and release for marijuana

Dallas says yes to cite and release for marijuana

Dallas says yes to cite-and-release. Photo courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife

The city of Dallas now has a cite-and-release program for marijuana, with a 10-5 majority of the Dallas City Council voting yes to the policy at its meeting on April 11.

This is the second time the Dallas City Council has considered cite and release, following a pilot program that was considered in 2016 and rejected. Dallas will join Austin and Houston, which instituted its cite and release program this year; there's also growing support in San Antonio.

A number of representatives from Faith in Texas, a multi-racial faith movement for social justice, attended at the Dallas City Council meeting to make public comments in support of the bill, stressing the discriminatory effect that marijuana policies have on people of color. The measure also got a thumbs up from the district attorney's office, which helped pave the way for its approval.

Voting yes for cite and release were council members Adam Medrano, Carolyn King Arnold, Casey Thomas Erik Wilson, Lee Kleinman, Mark Clayton, Monica Alonzo, Philip Kingston, Scott Griggs, and Tiffinni Young.

Voting against were Mayor Rawlings, Adam McGough, Jennifer Gates, Rick Callahan, and Sandy Greyson.

Council member Young said that she did not support the pilot program, but she worked with the district attorney's office to tweak the original plan by adding stipulations for contraband in a correctional facility, and driving with an invalid license.

Mayor Mike Rawlings tried to postpone the vote until after lunch, and council member Jennifer Staubach Gates tried to bump the topic back to committee, but their efforts were thwarted.

Council member Kingston, who's been working on the bill since he was elected in 2013, said that the idea of delaying the vote was "extremely poisonous."

"It's been delayed for a year while primarily young African American and Latino kids sat in Lew Sterrett," he said. "Delaying it again is a guarantee that our police will be wasting our time, when we're down 400 officers from where we ought to be. It's been briefed and briefed again."

Sandy Greyson repeated the issue she had with the pilot program, that some of the residents in her district live in other counties, where cite and release is not yet enacted, and claimed that those residents would be treated unfairly.

And Rick Callahan suggested that up to 80 percent of those issued a citation would probably go to jail anyway.

A representative from the Dallas Police Department outlined how the program would work. When officers stop someone, they must first ascertain that the person lives in the county where they were caught. A supervisor brings a scale and the marijuana is weighed to determine if it is four ounces or less. A thumbprint is taken, and the individual is sent on his/her way with a summons to show up for an arraignment hearing within two weeks.

The policy goes into effect in October.