Last year El Paso City Council gave the green light for the so-called cite and release program for first time offenders who were caught with a small amount of marijuana. The program was put into place to try and reduce the number of people incarcerated for Class A and B marijuana charges by giving them the chance to be written a ticket and then go to court later.

It's not a get of jail free card and it doesn't make pot legal, it just changes the way some pot possession charges are handled.
To be eligible for the program you can only have 4 ounces or less of pot on you and if you are intoxicated, have outstanding warrants or are generally uncooperative you could still be arrested.

Close-up. Arrested man handcuffed

Since September 2020, the El Paso Police Department has reported 290 possession of marijuana cases during a three-month period with 61 people qualifying for the cite and release program. Under the program the District Attorney's Office will determine if there is a need to file a criminal case against you. If there is a case is filed, you will appear in court and enter a plea and then be assigned to a county court for future hearings. You could still face pretty stiff penalties if you are found guilty of possession. Class B misdemeanor marijuana possession is punishable by up to 180 days in state jail and/or up to a $2,000 fine. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or up to a $4,000 fine.

Rattankun Thongbun
Rattankun Thongbun

City rep Alexsandra Anello told a local news station that City Council approved of the cite and release program because often when people are arrested for a small amount of marijuana they can't pay their fines and end up stuck in the system and they wanted to avoid that.

If you have a teens under 17 years old you should warn them that they can't be enrolled into the cite and release program because it was created for adults. If they're stopped they'll be remanded to the juvenile probation department.

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