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Harris County Adjusts Deadline For Marijuana Diversion Program

Because of Hurricane Harvey, the county had stopped issuing arrest warrants for those that failed to complete the course within 90 days

Harris County is giving people arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana extra time to complete a diversion program.

District Attorney Kim Ogg launched the program last March. It gives participants 90 days to complete a four-hour class taught by the Harris County Probation Department. Once the class is completed, the arrest is removed from your record.

According to Nathan Beedle, Misdemeanor Division Chief for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, because of Hurricane Harvey, the county had stopped issuing arrest warrants for those that failed to complete the course within 90 days. But that deal is ending on March 1, 2018.

 

“If someone does not take advantage of that opportunity, we’re going to follow through with what we said we’d do, and we will file a charge on you,” Beedle said. 

To date, the DA’s office said 3,209 have entered the diversion program, 1,794 still need to complete the course.

“There comes a time when everyone must be held accountable,” Ogg said. “That time is now, as the Houston region has largely recovered from a storm of historic proportions.”

For the ten years prior to the program’s launch, an average of 10,000 people a year were charged for misdemeanor marijuana possession. 

“There’s two possible offenses (to be eligible for the program), there’s a Class A amount of misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and Class B, which would be the vast majority, probably 99 percent plus of the cases,” says Beedle. “So under two ounces of a usable quantity of marijuana would be a Class B misdemeanor, which you could have been arrested for in the past. But this program allowed you an opportunity to not get an arrest. Not get an arrest record. Not have any other collateral negative consequences on your employment, living and other situations.”

The District Attorney’s Office says the program saves Harris County approximately $27 million a year. Those who need to take the class should go to the website www.go2gov.net/go/mmdp to register and pay the required $150.00 cost to take the class.

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