A Bexar County District Attorney will no longer prosecute the possession of small amounts of marijuana and other hard drugs.
The recently elected Bexar County DA Joe Gonzales announced on May 16, 2019 that his office will no longer prosecute the possession of trace amounts of hard drugs such as heroine, cocaine, and methamphetamine under .25 grams. On top of that, Gonzalez’s office is no longer persecuting marijuana possession of less than an ounce.
This declaration is no isolated incident. Other Texas prosecutors have worked to focus law enforcement resources elsewhere. Dallas County D.A. John Creuzot declared in April that his office would not prosecute first-time marijuana possessors or trace amounts of drugs under .01 grams. The Travis County D.A. implemented a similar policy for trace drugs under .01 grams around the same time.
Christian Henrickson, the Bexar County D.A.’s chief of litigation, told Reason that “We believe that our resources need to be focused on the most serious violent crimes and criminals, and we have to make decisions on where to put our people and how to use those resources.”
The chief of litigation added that “It makes more sense to put them on violent crimes as opposed to small quantities of drugs that have a low conviction rate to start with.”
Henrickson claims that last year there were 5,000 marijuana cases filed in Bexar County. Based on these numbers, Henrickson believes that the impact of the relaxed marijuana policy will be “fairly significant.”
Reason’s research found that petty drug possession makes up the majority of narcotics prosecutions in Texas. A study co-authored by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union found that 78 percent of people jailed for felony drug possession in Texas in 2015 possessed under a gram of drugs, which weighs about the same as a paperclip.
Since the state of Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012, the infamous War on Drugs has slowly come to an end as states have legalized, decriminalized, or have refused to enforce certain drug laws.
This move by Bexar County marks a major step towards drug reform in the Lone Star State.