District attorneys in four Texas counties — including Bexar, Fort Bend, Harris and Nueces — signed an agreement to stop pursuing criminal charges for misdemeanor possessions of marijuana.
Meaning, if a person is found with 4 ounces or less of marijuana they cannot be criminally charged, unless a lab test results proves it has a THC concentration more than .3%.
We've been working with other DA's on a policy now that the Texas Legislature has changed the definition of marijuana. Fort Bend, Bexar and Nueces have signed, along with @HarrisCountyDAO. pic.twitter.com/YruYSnzUuh
— Harris County DA (@HarrisCountyDAO) July 3, 2019
This comes after Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1325 into law which legalizes hemp production and hemp-derived CBD products.
The law differentiates between marijuana and hemp by concentration of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana.
Kyle Hoelscher is president of the Corpus Christi chapter of the National Organization for Reforming Marijuana Laws. He said he believes Texas crime labs have “had it easy for a very long time” — until now that is.
“All they needed to say [was] if there was some THC, then it was marijuana and you could prosecute on it,” he said.
Very few crime labs in the state can conduct this type of testing. Hoelscher expected there would be a testing backlog as district attorneys work to find a lab that can meet their needs.
In an emailed statement, Bexar County DA Joe Gonzales said his office can’t currently meet the testing requirements but is working to find a lab. He added, however, that nothing prevents police from conducting searches, seizures or arrests if there is probable cause.
Gonzales’ office also recently rolled out its separate cite and release policy, which allows police discretion to issue a citation instead of arrest for low-level marijuana possession.