HOUSTON - Harris County's new policy for people caught with marijuana are now in effect as of March 1.
The new pot policy allows offenders to take a class and not receive jail time or have the misdemeanor go on their record. During her campaign for Harris County District Attorney, Kim Ogg promised to expand that policy to include all misdemeanor marijuana offenders. That involves people caught with up to four ounces of the drug.
Offenders must take a four-hour, $150 "Cognitive decision" class within 90 days. They will be arrested if they do not complete the course. Financial help will made available.
Those who are caught dealing, committing another crime, possessing in a drug-free zone, on bond, or on probation are not eligible for the program, however.
Ogg said the county previously spent more than $26 million per year prosecuting misdemeanor marijuana cases, and they take up 10 percent of court dockets. Under the previous policy, first-time offenders caught with up to two ounces of pot were able to avoid jail time through a diversion program.
Related: Harris County pot policy coverage