Governor slams his iron fist down on Texas cities for marijuana prosecutions

by | Jul 18, 2019 | Criminal Justice, Policy

Pot smokers who dabble in small amounts of the weed should take note.

The governor and his indicted attorney general are now wagging their Republican finger at those Texas counties that announced they weren’t going to prosecute small amounts of marijuana possession. 

The backstory here is the GOP-run legislature accidentally legalized small amounts of weed earlier this year. The new law legalized industrial hemp in Texas and also created new definitions for differentiating between hemp and marijuana. But because crime labs are unable to test the differences between hemp and marijuana, District Attorneys in Harris, Bexar, Fort Bend and Nueces collectively announced earlier this month that they would not file new misdemeanor pot possession cases.

But in a Thursday letter signed by Gov. Abbott and indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton, they made it clear that wasn’t the case.

“… marijuana has not been decriminalized in Texas, and these actions demonstrate a misunderstanding of how [the law the legislature passed] works,” the letter read. 

“First, a person claiming to transport hemp must have a certificate,” it continued. “Failure to have the required certificate while transporting hemp is a separate crime. Second, lab tests are not required in every case and are more affordable than initial reporting indicated. Failing to enforce marijuana laws cannot be blamed on legislation that did not decriminalize marijuana in Texas.”

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg wasn’t having it, issuing a statement late Thursday in response to the letter.

“The Legislature makes laws, but courts interpret them and that will be the case in this instance,” Ogg said. “Prosecutors have an ethical duty to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and laboratory confirmation in drug cases has long been required.  When a person’s liberty is at stake, juries demand nothing less.”

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