Effective March 1, 2017, the District Attorney’s Office will unveil the Harris County Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program (MMDP). This program aims to give citizens a chance to avoid misdemeanor marijuana arrests and convictions by completing a 90-day program while also seeking to use resources of the Harris County Criminal Justice system more effectively and efficiently.
To be eligible for participation in the Harris County Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program a person must:
- Be 17 years or older;
- Be found to have four ounces or less of marijuana;
- Possess sufficient identifying information at the time of detention (stop);
- Have no additional criminal charges arising out of the instant detention. For example, a person found in unlawful possession of marijuana and Xanax would be ineligible;
- Have no outstanding warrants;
- Not currently on bond, deferred adjudication or probation for a Class B offense or greater; and
- Be stopped and detained in Harris County (Montgomery County, Waller County, Liberty County, Galveston County, Ft. Bend County, Chambers County, and Brazoria County do not apply).
Note: A person will still be eligible to participate if they have a prior criminal record and/or if they have participated in the program before.
A person is not eligible for the Harris County Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program if:
- They are on bond, deferred adjudication or probation in Harris County or another jurisdiction for any offense other than a Class C (e.g. speeding ticket);
- Officers determine the person possesses marijuana with the intent to deliver (i.e. be careful how much cash you have);
- Is in possession of a concealed handgun and marijuana without a valid Concealed Handgun License (CHL). In this instance the person, assuming all other requirements are met, will only be charged with the Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon;
- Possess four ounces or less in a “drug-free zone”;
- Possess four ounces or less in a corrections facility;
- Is currently enrolled in the MMDP program; or
- Is found with cannabis wax, cannabis oils, etc. (these are controlled substances under Texas law and a felony).
Note: The officer can still detain and arrest you for driving under the influence of marijuana if probable cause exists that you were driving while intoxicated through the introduction of drugs.
Harris County Misdemeanor Diversion Program Requirements:
The Marijuana program requires a person to:
- Sign up for and complete the 4-hour MMDP cognitive decision-making class within 90 calendar days of his or her arrest;
- Not break the law before completion of the course (i.e. do not get arrested for another offense before the 90 day period is up); and
- Pay a $150 program fee.
MMDP Program Procedure:
When a person is stopped, and an officer finds a misdemeanor amount of marijuana, the officer should contact the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to confirm 1) probable cause exists for the detention (i.e. “the odor of marijuana”) and 2) if the person is eligible for the MMDP program. If the person is eligible, the officer will not make an arrest but instead will offer an agreement stating the marijuana program’s requirements and ask the person to sign. After signing the MMDP form, the person is released. If the person refuses to sign the MMDP form, they will be arrested, booked, and charged as if the program did not exist.
Once the person successfully completes the marijuana diversion program, no criminal charges will be filed and no criminal history of the event will exist. If the person agrees to but fails to complete the diversion program a formal criminal charge will be entered and an arrest warrant will be issued.
For Harris County misdemeanor marijuana cases filed before March 1, 2017
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana, 4 ounces or less, before March 1, 2017, you may still be able to take the class and have your case dismissed. Though as of this writing, the answer has not been finalized.