How the legalization of hemp is affecting drug enforcement in Texas

On Behalf of | May 12, 2021 | Drug Possession

The growing acceptance of marijuana use throughout the nation has created some significant problems for the authorities here in Texas — particularly since 2019. That’s when the law changed to make hemp products with less than .3% of THC legal.

Since then, a number of police departments in jurisdictions within the state, including Plano and Dallas, have shifted their departmental policies regarding arrests for marijuana possession. In some cases, officers can use their discretion and merely issue warnings or tickets for  lesser offenses. Others are simply treating anything less than a felony as a “cite and release” situation.

Why authorities have scaled back their focus on marijuana possession

Essentially, it comes down to a few major factors — especially money. In order to pursue charges, the state has to show that the cannabis in someone’s possession exceeds that .3% threshold. That requires testing, and testing is expensive.

The other issue is that the jails are overcrowded from drug possession arrests. In Dallas, for example, 80% of all marijuana possession arrests in February of this year involved less than two ounces. That just fills the cells and diverts resources away from other, more serious drug violations.

Here’s why you can still end up in trouble for marijuana possession

All of this sounds like good news, but you shouldn’t count on walking free if you’re caught with any kind of THC products in your possession.

For one thing, it’s critical to remember that the police consider the entire product in your possession when weighing charges — so the full weight of the edibles, flower, oil or capsules will be used, not just the THC content. If you have more than four ounces of product on you, that’s a felony.

Plus, enforcement efforts can vary depending on where you are. What might get you a misdemeanor charge and a fine in Dallas could get you thrown in jail somewhere else.

If you’re facing drug possession charges, don’t try to handle the situation on your own. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand more about what is at stake.