Attorney: 'Cannot tell the difference' between pot, hemp
Governor Abbott sent a letter to Texas District and County Attorneys. The letter reported that some DA's won't prosecute misdemeanor marijuana cases, and it urged them to continue to properly execute the law.
The new hemp law requires producers to be state licensed and test their products to ensure 0.3 percent or less THC concentration. Stephen Hamilton, a defense attorney, said since hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, it's tough for police to tell the difference between the two.
"You cannot tell the difference of the smells. This issue of smelling the odor of marijuana is tough because you can't tell if it's marijuana you're smelling or if it's hemp," Hamilton said.
Hamilton said since most labs in Texas can't test THC levels, it makes it tougher to prosecute pot crimes.
"Let's say Lubbock wants to prosecute one, well right now they can't test it and they need a Pennsylvania lab to test it. Let's say it's above 0.3 percent. They now need to call that lab technician from Pennsylvania to fly down to Lubbock," he said.
Hamilton added Abbott is expecting a lot from the state.
"His directive to prosecute cases is one of those unfunded mandates. He's saying to go out and do all of this stuff even though we won't give you any money and we aren't going to support you. We won't have anything for the labs to be able to test but go out and do it," Hamilton said.
Edward Wharff, with the D.A.'s office, was happy to see the letter. He doesn't expect any tough adjustments when the law goes into effect.
"There's always a learning curve when the laws change. The last few years, gun and knife laws have changed and there was a little bit of a learning curve and I'm sure there will be one with this as well," Wharff said.