Council Approves Cite and Release Ordinance

Downtown Oklahoma City, OK (Wikimedia Commons)

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK —  Members of the Oklahoma City City Council have passed a citywide ordinance shielding minor marijuana offenders from arrest and jail.

While the policy does not amend the criminal classification of cannabis-related violations under local law, it does change how police interact with low-level offenders.

Under the ordinance, which takes effect October 26, police will issue a citation to marijuana possession offenders in lieu of making an arrest and taking them to jail.

The new policy also lowers the maximum fines for marijuana possession to $400 and caps the maximum fine for possessing cannabis paraphernalia to $50.00.

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty proposed the policy change, stating: “What we’re trying to do is not put so many people in jail. It’s not reasonable anymore and hasn’t been for quite some time.”

Several municipalities – such as Dallas and Houston, Texas – impose similar cite-and-release policies.

Under Oklahoma state law, minor marijuana possession offenses are punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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