The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has notified law enforcement agencies that while officials are close to rolling out a lab test to test for THC levels, the state labs won’t conduct the tests in misdemeanor possession cases, the Texas Tribune reports. In Texas, misdemeanor offenses include possession up to 4 ounces and delivery or sale up to 7 grams.
In a February 18 letter to DPS laboratory clients, DPS Director Steve McCraw, said that while lawmakers “added resources to the laboratory to help expedite the analysis” of the state’s 50,000 felony drug cases per year, “additional funding to address misdemeanor cases was not provided because the laboratory does not analyze misdemeanor drug cases.”
“Annually, there are more than 80,000 misdemeanor marijuana arrests made in Texas. DPS will not have the capacity to accept those misdemeanor cases. Additionally, at this time, the Texas testing method is solely for plat material cases. Evaluations for use of this method or alternate methods for testing felonies associated with cannabis derivative (oils, edibles, etc) will be ongoing in 2020.” – McCraw, in the letter
Following the passage of hemp laws in the state, officials in several counties indicated they would no longer prosecute low-level cannabis cases due to their inability to differentiate industrial hemp from THC-rich cannabis products.
Shannon Edmonds, director of governmental relations for the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, called the decision “another hurdle to successfully prosecuting” low-level cannabis cases. Since hemp legalization, cannabis prosecutions in the state have fallen by more than half.
The state lab test for THC levels is expected to be finalized by the end of March but it is expected to take another two months to implement.