By Jeff Paul

DALLAS (CBS11) – Less than 24 hours into a new “cite and release” program for marijuana offenders in Dallas and some feel it is already a step in the direction towards legalization.

Starting on Friday, if someone is caught with four ounces of marijuana or less, they now might just get a citation and be free to go.

Cannabis advocate Kate Mullen believes the new program is a sign that Texas is a lot closer to making significant changes in marijuana restrictions.

“I believe that it’s a soft opening to cannabis legalization,” said Mullen, who runs cannabis advocacy group Green Rush Texas.

The new program is not a free pass to buy and light up a joint.

Weed is still illegal in Dallas, but would help eliminate jail time.

In addition to having four ounces or less, for cite and release to work, a person cannot have any outstanding warrants, they must have a valid Texas ID or driver’s license and it only applies to the Dallas County area of Dallas.

“My advice to people with regards to cite and release is don’t push it,” said Mullen.

It is still a Class A or B Misdemeanor. If a person does not show up to their court date, a warrant will be issued for their arrest.

“The person is still held accountable and they still have to do the process. We’re just taking away the difficulty of it. Not only for the person, but the officer, and the tax payer,” said Sheriff Lupe Valdez of Dallas County

While Texas has eased some restriction on the sale of medical cannabidiol and also seen an increase of bills calling for legalization or decriminalization of marijuana, little has changed in Texas.

Mullen firmly believes it is a step in a green direction.

“Let’s keep moving forward. If you must be caught with something, make it a very small amount,” said Mullen.

Cite and release does not apply to drug-free areas like school zones.

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