New marijuana diversion program could let users walk free in Harris County

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A new policy goes into effect today for people caught with misdemeanor amounts of marijuana in Harris County

A new program that could let marijuana users walk free is expected to be announced Thursday by Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.

"They're taking too many young people's lives and dealing too many legal issues behind marijuana," Sean Shelley said.

Shelley is among the hundreds who crowd into Harris County courts every morning on marijuana charges. He's charged with possessing less than two ounces of marijuana.
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New marijuana diversion program set to be revealed Thursday, Miya Shay reports.


Under a new diversion program, he may not have been arrested at all.

RELATED: Texas legislators file bills at decriminalizing marijuana
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Lone Star State legislators have submitted several proposals to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.



Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is being cautious about the specifics.

"I'm still reviewing details of it," Turner said. "I do think where we can improve and enhance the system, we need to do that."

The court system is clogged with people who have been caught with small amounts of marijuana, according to several lawyers. A diversion program would mean the qualifying offenders would agree to some conditions and eventually have the charges dropped.

"Obviously it will take a lot of cases out of the court system, if a person is not being arrested, posting a bond or coming down to court," Lisa Shapiro-Strauss said.

The police union says while it would be great to have officers go after rapists and murderers instead of writing paperwork on marijuana, they are taking a wait-and-see approach.

"I have a feeling there are going to be less arrests for marijuana, but I'm hoping this program does work," Ray Hunt said. "I'm hoping it does allow space in our jails to be held for the bad guys."

You can watch the announcement live on ABC13.com at 10am. We will continue to follow this story closely.
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