Council members say it's time to talk about changing the policy on pot
SAN ANTONIO -- Following Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood’s lead, two San Antonio city council members are now coming forward in support of looking at changing the city's policy on marijuana possession.
Earlier this month, LaHood said there could be benefits to relaxing the punishment for small marijuana possession, similar to what other counties in Texas have already done.
District 4 Councilman Rey Saldana and District 1 Councilman Roberto Trevino say it's time to look at changing the city's policy on marijuana possession.
“We can't arrest our way out of problems like this,” said Saldana.
Saldana says he's looking at several possibilities, including adopting a cite and release program, which LaHood has said is worth exploring.
For example, instead of arresting folks for a misdemeanor crime of possession of 4 ounces or less of marijuana, they would be cited and ordered to report to court.
However, Saldana said he and other council members have discussed 2 ounces or less of marijuana.
“When we think about policies like criminalizing 2 ounces of marijuana… we as a city incur a lot of costs. Not only the cost of arresting somebody, but providing a defense,” he said.
Experts say a drug arrest can take up to 4 hours.
Trevino says he'd rather officers spend time tackling violent crime or more serious offenses instead of smaller pot possession cases.
“I think what we're seeing is a lot of these offenses are not as serious, or create the public safety concern as they did in the past,” said Trevino. “So it's time to have this conversation.”
Trevino also added many people are now turning to medical marijuana as a form of treatment.
"Being 'Military City USA' I have a brother who is going through a series of pain medications and I know a lot of folks look at marijuana for medicinal purposes," Trevino said.
Although it's unknown when or if council members will discuss this issue, Saldana says he and others would be receptive if LaHood wants to pursue it.
“It still means we confiscate the marijuana,” said Saldana. “It still means you're liable for the offense, but it doesn't mean we arrest you. It doesn't mean we take up resources. It doesn't mean we take an officer off a beat to take you downtown and charge you.”
Although we reached out to all council members offices Monday, Saldana and Trevino were the only two who have so far agreed to an interview.
District 7 Councilman Chris Medina declined to comment, as did Mayor Ivy Taylor.
We are waiting to hear back from the remaining council members.