Fort Worth police Captain Mark Barthen indicated officers have “only been seizing” cannabis and “not issuing citations in lieu of arrest like other jurisdictions.”
The policy change is the latest for a Texas municipality as nine of 10 district attorneys representing the state’s most populous counties indicated a shift away from prosecuting low-level possession in the wake of the hemp law reforms.
In June, San Marcos’ first-in-the-state cite-and-release law took effect, requiring police to issue citations instead of arrests for low-level possession cases. El Paso lawmakers also passed a cite-and-release law which took effect in September.
Last January, the Austin City Council approved a resolution barring the city’s police from using funds on laboratory testing to distinguish hemp from THC-rich cannabis in low-level possession cases – effectively ending arrests and fines for possession. The city still allows funds to be used for testing in felony cannabis cases.
In February, the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) said state labs would no longer conduct THC testing in misdemeanor possession cases, which includes possession up to 4 ounces and delivery or sale up to 7 grams. In a letter to DPS clients, Director Steve McCraw said there were more than 80,000 misdemeanor cannabis arrests made per year in Texas.
From June 10, 2019 – when Texas legalized hemp – to January 5, 2020, cannabis possession cases filed in Texas fell 66 percent.
Earlier this month, Democratic Senator-elect Roland Gutierrez pre-filed a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state.