A hemp delivery driver jailed on federal drug charges in Texas has been freed and his charges dismissed after laboratory testing on his 3,350-pound cargo confirmed it was hemp, the Texas Tribune reports. Aneudy Gonzalez had been jailed for nearly a month after being pulled over for driving on the shoulder by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper; Gonzalez was arrested despite showing the officer the lab tests for his cargo.
Under Texas hemp laws, police are not allowed to interfere with interstate transport – the shipment originated in California and was headed to New York – and are not permitted to seize any product or make any arrests unless they have probable cause the substance is psychoactive cannabis. Gonzalez’s attorney, Adam Tisdell, said the lab results took away the officer’s probable cause, but the trooper arrested his client and seized his cargo.
“They legalized a plant that has a distinction that’s invisible to everyone except a machine. Aneudy got searched because they smelled marijuana. Well, they can’t smell marijuana anymore. They can smell cannabis.” — Tisdell, to the Tribune
In a statement to the Tribune, DPS said the trooper believed the substance was illegal based on his training and experience. Gonzalez had also been arrested in Arizona during the same trip; there he spent one night in jail until officials determined he was hauling hemp.
Hemp legalization has brought confusion to law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. where THC-rich cannabis remains mostly illegal. In Texas, several counties have indicated they would stop prosecuting low-level cannabis crimes due to officers not being able to tell the difference between hemp and psychoactive cannabis and it not being worth the cost of testing to prosecute low-level possession offenses. Since hemp legalization took effect in Texas on June 10, the number of possession cases filed in the state has fallen nearly 66 percent.
Gonzalez’s lawyers said they would pursue a civil lawsuit for their client’s arrest and detention.
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