Cops should now show that minor pot offenders are literally in possession of weed (not hemp) previous to arrest. Most police departments, nevertheless, lack the tools to show this.

When Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a brand new legislation legalizing the cultivation and use of hemp and CBD, he did not count on that he’d even be decriminalizing minor cannabis possession within the Lone Star State.

Final month, Texas turned state quantity 43 to legalize hemp and all of its byproducts, together with hemp-derived CBD. In accordance with the 2018 Farm Invoice, which ended the federal prohibition of hemp, Texas’ new legislation legalizes all cannabis vegetation and byproducts that comprise lower than 0.Three p.c THC content material. Hashish vegetation with increased THC ranges are nonetheless thought of to be marijuana, and stay prohibited.

This new legislation is nice information for the state’s burgeoning CBD business. However it’s had the unintended consequence of constructing it tougher for cops to bust minor pot offenders. So as to arrest somebody for cannabis possession, cops should now show that the substance they confiscated is definitely marijuana — not hemp. To do that, police should be capable to take a look at the THC stage in pot they’ve seized. However most native police departments would not have this expertise.

“The excellence between marijuana and hemp requires proof of the THC focus of a selected product or contraband, and for now, that proof can come solely from a laboratory able to figuring out that sort of efficiency — a class which apparently excludes most, if not all, of the crime labs in Texas proper now,” the state District and County Attorneys Affiliation mentioned in a latest advisory.

For many counties, the one fast resolution can be to ship confiscated weed to non-public labs for testing. ABC 13 Investigates discovered that these assessments can vary from $200 to $750 per case. Final 12 months, Texas district attorneys prosecuted practically 70,000 misdemeanor pot possession instances. If prosecutors had been to get try to get non-public THC lab testing for the same variety of instances this 12 months, the price can be over $35 million.

Texas crime labs may additionally immediately buy the tools wanted to make these THC assessments themselves. The associated fee per lab may very well be as a lot as $500,000, nevertheless, and at the least 20 such labs can be wanted to cowl the entire state, based on Peter Stout, CEO of the crime lab utilized by the Houston Police Division. 

The brand new legislation took impact instantly on June 10th, the day that Abbott signed it. With out time to draft new insurance policies or determine on new THC testing practices, many state prosecutors have merely determined to dismiss minor pot convictions within the fast future. 

“So as to observe the Legislation as now enacted by the Texas Legislature and the Workplace of the Governor, the jurisdictions … won’t settle for prison fees for Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana (four oz. and underneath) and not using a lab take a look at outcome proving that the proof seized has a THC focus over .3%,” district attorneys from Harris, Fort Bend, Bexar and Nueces counties wrote in a joint coverage assertion, based on the Texas Tribune.

“I may even be informing the legislation enforcement businesses by letter to not file marijuana or THC felony instances with out consulting with the DA’s Workplace first to find out whether or not the required lab testing will be obtained,” Travis County District Lawyer Margaret Moore mentioned in an announcement, the Tribune stories.

Prosecutors in Fort Value have already dismissed a whole bunch of minor pot possession instances. Fort Bend, Montgomery, and Walker counties are reportedly placing instances on maintain whereas they develop the required testing protocol. Tarrant County dismissed 234 instances, though these will be refiled throughout the subsequent two years if the county finds an reasonably priced method to take a look at THC ranges. Harris County is permitting minor pot offenders to take a four-hour training class reasonably than face prison fees.