August 7, 2019

Texas DPS Officers Reportedly Told Not To Arrest For Low-Level Marijuana Cases In Response To New Hemp Law

There have been a lot of changes in the legislation regarding marijuana over the years. Perception towards the plant has been dramatically shifted and for some states, that means making it legal. For others, they remain in adamant dissent. For Texas, there’s not as much certainty. In fact, after a new law was formally passed, there has been a lot of confusion regarding the prosecution of cases involving marijuana. As a result, the DPS has issued a mandate for the police force to follow in response towards the new legal landscape as it stands today.

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What Was The New Hemp Law About?

House Bill 1325 is a controversial piece of legislation that has garnered a lot of attention. The law, now passed, legalizes hemp and hemp-derived extracts like CBD oil. However, that’s only as long as hemp content contains no more than 0.3% of the substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the compound that is considered to be psychoactive. As a result, industrial farmers can freely cultivate hemp crops without legal infringement. This, of course, does not constitute the use of cannabis which has a higher percentage of THC, and that is where things have become a little more difficult to interpret.

The Problem As It Stands

Currently, in response to the new hemp law, prosecutors and district attorneys throughout Texas are refusing to continue bringing marijuana cases to trial. The reason being is because of the new distinction that the hemp bill brings to marijuana exacerbates the due process.

Previously, all of the marijuana flower and plant material was considered to be criminalized. Now, if that plant does not contain a percentage that is higher than .03% it is legal to own. Furthermore, this makes it very difficult to cost-effectively differentiate between which possessions are legal and which are not. This extra level of complexity has made it difficult to legitimately justify any case that does not contain marijuana possession of more than 4 ounces. Therefore, the arrests and the jailing of these perpetrators are no longer considered ideal when the legal system will not pursue them any further.

The New Hemp Law Has Changed The Legal Landscape For Marijuana

How Are Officers Handling These Cases Now?

The method to prove the difference between THC levels involves sending the confiscated plant matter to a lab for testing. This is an expensive process that has brought tremendous inconvenience to lawyers and their ability to conduct further cases. Cases which have been considered of a higher degree of importance. In order to facilitate the new law and continue to perform their duties on the street, the DPS has issued a new mandate for officers to follow.

They were ordered to “Cite and release” whenever possible. Offenders would merely be issued a ticket instead and aren’t arrested. This does not mean that the penalty for their possession is lessened, it means they will not go through the arduous process of incarcerating during the testing of the matter which takes a far longer time. That has been considered to be an inappropriate amount to jail time to give an “alleged” defendant.

This means that a person found in possession will be issued a ticket and potentially the full punishment extent of their crime which can be a fine of $4000 and up to a year in jail. This, of course, will only occur should the prosecutor decide to take the case. If you believe that you may be in a situation that contradicts this information, or you would like to know more details about the new law, reach out to us on our website by clicking here!