The Texas Department of Public Safety claimed last month that it seized more than 3,000 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop in Carson County. Lab results indicate the load was legal hemp. Texas Department of Public Safety
In the ongoing chaos of hemp’s legalization that has sent marijuana prosecutions plummeting, Texas has encountered a 3,350-pound problem.
Last month, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper arrested a driver who the agency claimed was hauling more than a ton of marijuana through the state near Amarillo. Aneudy Gonzalez was jailed for nearly a month on federal charges, and the plant material was seized. But last week, the 39-year-old was released from jail, his case was dismissed and the cargo is expected to be returned.
The reason? Lab results indicate the substance was not marijuana but legal hemp.
In legalizing hemp production last year, state lawmakers narrowed the definition of marijuana from the cannabis plant to cannabis with more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the ingredient in the plant that produces a high. Any cannabis with less than that amount of THC is hemp, which is used in products like clothing, twine, protein powder and CBD oil.
After he was pulled over, Gonzalez showed the trooper a lab report indicating the cargo met the state’s new legal definition of hemp.
He was arrested despite the report — and Texas’ hemp law that says the state’s policy is not to interfere with interstate commerce of hemp. It also says law enforcement can’t seize cannabis or arrest anyone without probable cause that the substance is marijuana, not hemp. Gonzalez’s attorney argued that showing the lab report of legal THC levels took away that probable cause.
In a statement, DPS said the trooper believed the material was marijuana based on his training and experience.
“The trooper arrested Mr. Gonzalez, and following further questioning by a [U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration] Task Force Officer, the DEA Officer adopted the investigation and took custody of Mr. Gonzalez and all evidence,” the agency said.
The Texas agency then pointed to the DEA for further details. A spokesperson for the DEA said late Tuesday that agency’s test showed the amount of THC was below 0.3%, which means it is also hemp under federal law.