With three states — Florida, Texas, and Ohio, decriminalizing marijuana possession, crime labs are having a hard time suspecting people in possession of cannabis.
The rush to expand America’s production of industrial hemp, unwittingly, made it difficult for law enforcement to prosecute individuals for possession of marijuana.
Farm Bill 101:
It all started with the 2018 Farm Bill, which proposed legislation to remove hemp from Schedule I controlled substances and make it a common agricultural commodity. After which at least 47 states became a part in enacting hemp legislation, at a legal limit of 0.3% THC in hemp. And at least 11 states and Washington, D.C. legalized recreational marijuana for adults.
Coming to this summers,
- Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed the legislation legalizing the manufacturing of hemp and CBD products on June 10.
- Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Florida Hemp Program Act on June 25.
- And finally, Republican Governor Mike DeWine signed Ohio’s bill legalizing hemp and hemp-derived products like CBD on July 30.
No Authorized Search Warrants On Smelling Marijuana
Officials have called for an end to the prosecution of low-level marijuana cases. Because of the lack of a meticulous field test that tells the green plant taken from someone’s car is marijuana or hemp. The Florida State Attorney has lately announced that he will not prosecute some marijuana offenses until a credible field test is developed. He also stated that there would be no authorized search warrants in cases where officers or police dogs smelled marijuana, as it could be hemp.
“It actually blew my mind,” -Williams
NBC News reported a story from Texas, where Donte Chazz Williams was pulled over by the deputy sheriff of Fort Bend County. The officer smelled pot, and William was booked to jail for possession of marijuana.
After negotiating with his lawyer on his enrollment in the drug education program, the case was dropped. Prosecutors said that they could no longer prove that the pot was indeed a pot. “That’s crazy,” said Williams. “It actually blew my mind.”
How Are States Handling This?
Hemp, by legal definition, is cannabis with less than 0.3% of THC. Both marijuana and hemp are relatively the same. There is no precise equipment that can suspect the real difference between the presence of hemp or cannabis. Over the previous eight months, crime labs across the nation have suddenly discovered themselves unable to prove the possession of now-legal hemp and still-illegal marijuana. According to law enforcement authorities, hundreds or even thousands of cases are being dropped.
The Texas Tribune reported in July that hundreds of cases of Texas marijuana had been dropped. The Texas Department has been told to write a misdemeanor citation to those caught possessing less than 4 ounces of marijuana, rather than arresting them.
On August 7 in Columbus, Ohio, local CBS affiliate 10TV WBNS revealed that the City Attorney had dropped all pending marijuana misdemeanor cases. In Ohio, having about 3.5 ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum fine of $150, and more than 3.5 ounces could lead to 30 days in jail and a fine of $250.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney did the same thing on August 10 in Florida, according to Miami CBS station CBS4. Florida prosecutors take a mixed strategy by dismissing all marijuana charges and filling new charges after the lab results.
Georgia’s second-largest county prosecutor dismissed more than 100 marijuana cases this week after reaching a similar conclusion in each case.
Texas, Ohio, and Florida are trying to analyze the situation and revisit the decision to modify the policy of pot. Whereas, law enforcement is trying to involve expensive testing equipment that can certainly catch the difference between the possession of hemp or marijuana. They are also implementing new training practices on testing methods.