DALLAS -- City Council voted not to try a six-month pilot program in the City of Dallas that would have allowed people caught with a small amount of marijuana to avoid jail time, instead being released with a citation and a summons to show up in court.
The council voted 10-5 against the cite-and-release program, which was opposed by Dallas Police Chief David Brown.
The program would've gone into effect in September and lasted through March so the city could assess the results and see what impact it had.
The cite-and-release program would not have changed the current penalties for marijuana possession. It would just allow police to issue a citation and a summons to appear in a Dallas courtroom, as opposed to immediately taking those possessing small amounts of the drug to jail.
According to a Facebook post from Councilmember Scott Griggs, two percent of Dallas Police Department arrests are for possession of small amounts of marijuana. He called it a "substantial use of DPD resources."
"Whatever your position on marijuana is, you have to acknowledge that the cost of enforcing these low-level possession crimes for outweigh any public benefit we get," he said. "There is no public safety benefit for arresting people for marijuana. There just isn't."
Councilmember Sandy Greyson was one of the leading voices opposing the pilot program. She said she was concerned that it would not include City of Dallas citizens who live in parts of far north Dallas that fall into Denton and Collin counties. Those citizens fall under the jurisdiction of the sheriff's department in those counties.
"It was unequal," Greyson said. "It was unfair for us to be able to say, 'OK, we're going to go to this area, and not this area -- the citizens of this area, but not another.' We have to be equal. We have to be with everybody."
Griggs dismissed arguments against the program as "red-herring arguments from people who really just want to continue to restrict marijuana."
"Ms. Greyson feels like 98 percent of the city that lives in Dallas County shouldn't be given this important justice reform because two percent who choose to live in Collin and Denton counties can't be given the same treatment," Griggs said.
Greyson said Griggs was "entitled to his opinion," but "it's equality we're talking about."
She said she's be happy to look into it again, if the program could include all City of Dallas citizens.