Texas A&M University police changing enforcement of marijuana possession under 2 ounces

The plan is to confiscate the marijuana and release the person if they are in possession of less than two ounces and are non-violent.
KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 8:57 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - The Texas A&M University Police Department notified the Board of Regents about a change they are making to marijuana enforcement.

During a meeting Wednesday night, UPD Chief Mike Johnson told the Regents that non-violent marijuana arrests under two ounces are infrequently pursued after charges are filed. This is why UPD will no longer look to immediately arrest someone they encounter with the possession.

The plan is to confiscate the marijuana and release the person if they are in possession of less than two ounces and are non-violent. The case will then be brought to the County Attorney for review. If they determine charges are necessary, a warrant will be signed and UPD will make contact with the subject.

Chief Johnson said he worked this out with the County Attorney to figure out the best way to free up officers and cut down on criminal charges for students coming from out of state.

“I think that’s best for those that are involved, especially when we have so many students coming from different areas where it is not a crime for them to possess certain amounts of marijuana so they get here and it’s a different concept for them and they’re trying to grasp that and we’re trying to work through that with them,” he said.

There was support from multiple Regents for the move, including Chancellor John Sharp. Sharp shared a story of a young student years back who stole his vehicle. Instead of calling law enforcement, Sharp said he helped the man get into counseling and prevented a permanent record. Now, Sharp said the man is a very successful engineer in Houston.

“I agree with what Regent Graham and Hernandez were talking about,” Sharp said. “They’re 18-20 years old, we’ve got to cut them some slack without putting an arrest record on them if they’re not a danger to everybody else in my opinion.”

According to records for the Brazos County Detention Center, marijuana possession under two ounces is the most common arrest.

During the same meeting, the Texas A&M University Police Chief and Greg Hartman, the Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives for the Texas A&M System, also discussed a need to hire additional law enforcement officers.

Hartman said the department arrests hundreds of people each year and from May 2021- May 2022, UPD responded to 8,844 calls for service, meaning an average of 245 calls per patrol officer.

Johnson and Hartman said officers are tasked with working large events, responding to calls on campus, and helping assist off campus.

“We have Century Square, we have an airport, we have RELLIS where we help to provide service with a contract with the system, we have the Health Science Center with those kinds of areas too,” Hartman said.

Centurion Solutions conducted a review of the department and advised that it increase staffing, improve facilities and update technology.

Johnson said the plan is to add 10 officers each year over the next five years with a goal of having 140 officers.

The department also says improvements are underway for surveillance cameras on campus.