What's Going on With Marijuana Laws in Texas and Austin?
Governor Abbott has caused a bit of a conundrum for Texas prosecutors. In June, new rules were signed into law regarding hemp. This is an attempt by Texas to fall in line with other states looking to capitalize on the added revenue that hemp crops can provide.
But Greg has a problem now when it comes to marijuana possession. The test to see if a plant is from the cannabis family is relatively inexpensive. However, the test does not distinguish between hemp an cannabis. For that, you need a much more expensive test.
In response, District Attorneys in Austin and across Texas exercised their discretion by essentially decriminalizing marijuana. The reason for this is simple. Why spend resources on a harmless crime when those resources could be spent on charges that actually have a negative affect? Like say, sexual assault. https://www.kut.org/post/women-are-suing-austin-travis-county-failing-prosecute-sexual-assault
So while marijuana possession is still a punishable offense everywhere in Texas, many jurisdictions are electing not to spend a dime in enforcing the law because of the onerous expense of resources. This is essentially decriminalizing the plant since you won’t face charges for possessing it.
This really pissed Greg off. So, in his latest attempt to usurp authority from local governments, he penned a letter to the District Attorneys of Texas letting them know that marijuana has definitely NOT been criminalized and that they are all in dereliction of duties if they fail to prosecute. Ridiculously, the Governor states that in order to legally transport hemp, you would need a certificate, even though there is no system set up to award certificates. So is hemp legal or not, Greg? I mean, you signed the bill.
Regardless of whether marijuana is decriminalized in Austin, it has been and remains a low priority for law enforcement and prosecutors. There are many ways to get marijuana cases dismissed, and if dismissal is not offered in your case, you should consider hiring a private attorney to fight for you. (Importantly, a deferred adjudication is NOT a dismissal, and could result in a permanent mark on your criminal record.)
This push-back from Abbott’s office is hardly unexpected. It follows in a long trend of upturning decisions that should be left to local jurisdictions. See Uber in Austin, Fracking in Denton, and most recently, an attempt to save Chick-Fil-A in the San Antonio Airport. Great way to expend resources on issues that actually matter, Greg.