DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia received support Tuesday, March 2, from city council members for his plan to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
In February, 140 people were arrested in Dallas for marijuana possession of less than 2 ounces.
They will be among the last now that Chief Garcia has announced plans to change the department’s general orders to eliminate charges for those found with a small amount for personal use.
“There’s a possibility of having some unintended quiet consequences and if does end up coming to fruition, we will be happy to tweak our policies,” said Chief Garcia.
The chief said the change will free up his officers to pursue investigations against more serious drug crimes.
His decision was met with almost unanimous approval from city council members during Tuesday’s Public Safety Committee meeting.
“I’m very thankful it’s being implemented by you Chief,” said District 7 Council Member Adam Bazaldua.
There will be exceptions to the new policy that will lead to a criminal charge.
Those include signs of reselling, such as scales, baggies, or if the drug transaction is observed by an officer.
Other exceptions, the presence of a firearm and a criminal history of violent offenses.
Those caught smoking weed in public will still be issued citations.
Some on the council worry that the move to decriminalize will allow marijuana drug houses in neighborhoods to proliferate.
“The drug houses are now supplying the 2 ounces or less that we’re now not going to enforce,” said District 12 Council Member Cara Mendelsohn. “You want to shut down one but you’re allowing the second so that seems fairly inconsistent to me.”
Some council members said they want to review the impact of the policy in six months, but for now they are giving the city’s new chief the green light to implement his first major policy move.