The mayor and police chief in Houston say they support a new program in which Harris county law enforcement will not arrest those in possession of four ounces or less of marijuana. (Robert F. Bukaty, Associated Press file)

Houston area decriminalizes possession of small amounts of weed

Effective March 1, the nation's fourth-largest city will no longer make arrests of those carrying four ounces or less of marijuana

HOUSTON — The district attorney in the most populous Texas county has announced a new program in which law enforcement agencies will not arrest individuals caught with four ounces or less of marijuana.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced in Houston on Thursday that her office will offer those possessing misdemeanor amounts of marijuana an opportunity to participate in the program starting March 1.

Individuals won’t be jailed or have to appear in court, but they will have 90 days to complete a four-hour decision-making class. Those completing the program won’t face charges.

The mayor and police chief in Houston, the county seat and nation’s fourth-most populous city, say they support the program.

But Brett Ligon, neighboring Montgomery County’s district attorney, criticized the program and said his suburban county won’t “become a sanctuary for dope smokers.”