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Cannabis users carrying up to four ounces of weed in El Paso, Texas could soon find a new level of police leniency, thanks to a quickly moving proposal for a “Cite and Release” marijuana ordinance.

According to a first-hand account from Colt DeMorris, the Executive Director of NORML’s El Paso Chapter, the citywide proposal would end automatic arrests for misdemeanor cannabis possession charges. If implemented, the law would allow police to write citations and forego arrest for any misdemeanor marijuana crime, including and up to possession of a quarter pound of pot.  

The Cite and Release proposal would not actually reduce consequences for misdemeanor pot crimes, but would eliminate overnight or days-long lockups over petty amounts of weed. 

“They would still be held under the law and face those consequences. This is just meaning a police officer doesn’t have to take someone downtown to the jail and process them, which takes hours,” El Paso City Representative Alexsandra Annello told KFOX14 News. “The actual process of arresting someone, booking them downtown with the sheriff’s office, is astronomical and we need to look at how we deal with that,” said Annello.

At an El Paso City Council meeting late last week, DeMorris said that local officials debated the “cite and release” proposal vigorously, and eventually voted not to immediately implement the program, but to “show support on implementing a cite and release program once they have researched and gathered information from other jurisdictions.”

It is not exactly clear what other jurisdictions El Paso City Councilors will look to, or when the local cite and release program will actually see the light of day, but for a state that has been historically slow to enact cannabis reform at every turn, the proposal is certainly a step in the right direction. 

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