Marijuana program participants given final opportunity to make things right
Hurricane Harvey disrupted countless lives, but prosecutors have a warning for those who have failed to complete a class required to avoid being charged with a crime over small amounts of marijuana.
They have until this coming March 1 to complete a program, or warrants will be filed for their arrests, making them subject to prosecution, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said Thursday.
“There comes a time when everyone must be held accountable,” Ogg said. “That time is now, as the Houston region has largely recovered from a storm of historic proportions.”
The Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program, launched by Ogg last March, gives participants 90 days to complete a four-hour class taught for the district attorney’s office by the Harris County Probation Department.
For the ten years prior to the program, an average of 10,000 people a year were charged for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
“This exposed them to a criminal record limiting their job, housing and educational opportunities,” Ogg said. “Our community is safer when we keep people in the work force.”
Since the program began, it has drawn 3,209 participants, according to the district attorney’s office.
1,415 persons have completed the program.
978 people are pending completion of the program, but still within their 90-day period to do so.
816 people have failed to complete the class on time.
“People have an opportunity to complete this class and get on with their lives,” Ogg said.
The program saves the county approximately $27 million a year that can be redirected toward fighting violent crimes and other offenses, she said.
Those who need to take the class should go to the website www.go2gov.net/go/mmdp to register and pay the required $150 cost of the class.