PLANO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Citing costs and racial disparity, the Plano Police Department will now issue citations instead of arrests in cases of possession of two ounces of marijuana or less.
Plano Police Chief Ed Drain made the special order earlier this week regarding Class B marijuana possession. Officers will no longer make these type of arrests except when the suspect is also being charged with firearm-related offenses.READ MORE: For Sale: Dallas Mansion With No Bedrooms For Nearly $1 Million
According to the department, officers will, instead, issue citations for possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class C misdemeanor.
One of the reasons for the decision was due to a change in Texas law in 2019 that requires marijuana be tested to determine THC content before cases are accepted for prosecution, the department said. Agencies are required to pay commercial labs to conduct these tests.READ MORE: Dallas Officer On Administrative Leave During Investigation Into Possible Excessive Use Of Force
The department said testing could cost between $35,000 to $40,000 per year if they kept making these types of marijuana arrests.
According to the department, the change was also made due to a disparity in arrests regarding race. The department said, “There is a disparity in African Americans’ arrests for possession of minor amounts of marijuana compared to Whites, even though national drug use surveys show Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics use marijuana at similar rates.”MORE NEWS: Kaufman County Sheriff's Office Reviewing Video Of Controversial Arrest Of 2 Women
The change comes weeks after Marvin Scott III died in custody at Collin County Jail following his arrest in Allen. Authorities said he was arrested for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana.