HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Harris County prosecutors are warning anyone who has failed to complete a class required to avoid being charged with a crime over small amounts of marijuana. They have until March 1 to complete the program or warrants will be filed for their arrests, making them subject to prosecution.
"There comes a time when everyone must be held accountable," said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg in a statement on Thursday. "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 in March 2017, 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 were charged annually for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
"This exposed them to a criminal record, limiting their job, housing and educational opportunities," explained Ogg. "Our community is safer when we keep people in the work force."
Since the program began, 3,209 people have participated, according to HCDAO. Of the participants, 1,415 of them have completed the program while 978 of them are pending completion of the program 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," added Ogg.
The program saves the county approximately $27 million annually that Ogg said can be redirected toward fighting violent crimes and other offenses.
Anyone who needs to take the class should visit https://secure.go2gov.net/pay/public/mmdp/welcome.faces to register and pay the required $150 cost of the class.