New plan: Texas authorities won’t prosecute first-time marijuana offenders

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HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Authorities say a new plan in one part of Texas will help those caught with marijuana.

If you’re caught with a small amount of marijuana in Harris County, and it’s your first offense, it will not go on your criminal record.

Prosecutors and police support the plan but not everyone is on board.

When it comes to marijuana, one wrong choice can blow a future away.

“Too often, we see young people, with the promise of an incredible future in front of them, make mistakes that then begin a spiral downwards,” said Sheriff Adrian Garcia, with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Houston police are partnering on a new pilot program from the district attorney.

“Our goal is to keep these individuals from entering the revolving door of the criminal justice system,” said Devon Anderson, the Harris County district attorney.

Beginning on Monday, first-time, non-violent offenders found with up to two ounces of marijuana won’t be charged.

They will avoid jail if they agree to do eight hours of community service or an eight-hour class.

“Better education, as to where it can lead them, is a whole lot better than putting them in the federal pen, prison systems, where they become hardened, repeat offenders,” said Charlotte Farmer.

However, some aren’t buying into the idea.

“I think that’s too soft, I really do,” said Lonnie Rusch.

“This program is not for everyone. We are targeting people we believe are self-correcting, those who will be scared straight,” said Anderson.

“I think it, overall, will improve people’s lives,” she said.