Dallas County DA Stops Prosecuting First-Time Cannabis Misdemeanors

The new District Attorney for Dallas County, Texas says he will no longer prosecute low-level cannabis crimes for first-time offenders.

Full story after the jump.

Dallas County, Texas District Attorney John Creuzot will no longer prosecute low-level cannabis crimes for first-time offenders, he announced in a policy letter to the county’s citizens. The letter also indicates his office is “in the process of dismissing all pending misdemeanor marijuana cases filed” before he took office, noting that as of Apr. 11 he has dismissed more than 1,000 of the cases.

Creuzot points out that African Americans are three times more likely to be prosecuted for misdemeanor possession despite using cannabis at similar rates as other races.

“After arrest, African Americans are assessed money bond at a higher rate for marijuana possession, and are assessed higher bond amounts than other races. African Americans are more likely to be convicted of marijuana possession once charged and are more likely to serve a jail sentence. The District Attorney must take action to end that disparity.” – Creuzot, in the Apr. 11 letter, published by the Texas Observer

In lieu of prosecution, Creuzot, a Democrat, will offer offenders a program that, once completed, will keep their record clear. The reformed guidelines will apply so long as the “offenses do not occur in a drug-free zone, involve the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon, or involve evidence of delivery.”

During his campaign, Creuzot pledged to reduce the number of people in prison and jail in the county by one-fifth during his term.

Texas state law still strictly prohibits cannabis, though both Republicans and Democrats in the state sport planks related to cannabis policy reform and a decriminalization proposal is pending in the state legislature.

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