Newly enacted legislation could have a serious impact on marijuana possession cases in Williamson County and throughout the state of Texas. The state has recently implemented a hemp-related law on June 10th that requires law enforcement to test suspected cannabis for their THC level. If the level is at or above the legal limit of .03 percent, then prosecutors can prove guilt without reasonable doubt.
This new legislation has created a loophole for drug offenders charged with possessing pot. Since marijuana and hemp look very similar, testing THC percentage is now pivotal for the prosecution’s case. Cases where the substance wasn’t tested initially are now under review. However, this can be a painstakingly long and arduous process since testing can sometimes take up to 12 months to complete.
These standards have caused Williamson County Attorney Dee Hobbs to state he’s unable to prosecute approximately 50 marijuana possession cases due to the new law. In his statement, Hobbs said he cannot move forward because he feels there’s no way he can prosecute without testing the substance itself.
Attorney Dee Hobbs isn’t the only one dropping possession charges. Travis County prosecutors announced they were refusing to prosecute 93 marijuana possession cases because of the hemp legislation. Out of those cases, 32 of them were felony-level and 61 were misdemeanor charges.
The new legal loophole has caused confusion among district attorneys. Police can provide additional evidence to prove possession, but it doesn’t necessarily hold up in court. The new law has created an unsteady foundation for possession, so prosecutors and law enforcement must adjust to find a solution. Round Rock Chief of Police Allen Banks recently stated he would review the legislation and determine if any procedural changes are necessary to support it.
This blog was updated on July 16th, 2019.