Travis County creates diversion program for marijuana offenders

People who receive possession of marijuana charges in Travis County can now take a class to avoid a criminal charge.

The Travis County Commissioners Court approved The Travis County Attorney’s proposition to begin a four hour diversion program with Counseling and Education Services.

The program will service low-risk offenders who were cited for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. According to a citation count report, law enforcement in Travis County has issued 1,495 citations since the beginning of 2017.

Justice Of The Peace of Precinct 5 Nicholas Chu said the program will free-up the county court to focus on high-risk priority cases. 

“The community who we are ultimately responsible for isn’t calling for jail time,” Judge Chu said. “So this helps allocate resources so we can prioritize the violent offenders and the more dangerous folks.”

The county already had an eight hour course for offenders. CES Social Services Coordinator Marc Pitzer said the department already had an eight hour course servicing 17 and up. The course will be a condensed version that will educate first-time offenders about the drug and its effect on health.  
“We talk a good bit about neuro science and the brain to start with the chemistry of the brain and how drugs in general kind of effect that chemistry.” Pitzer said. “I think the education kind of provides clients with a better kind of basis to make decisions moving forward hopefully. 

CES will begin scheduling classes in January.