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New hemp law prompts Nueces County to not prosecute some marijuana cases

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tx — The Nueces County district attorney’s office announced this week that it’s no longer prosecuting some misdemeanor marijuana cases. The move comes after a new law that legalized hemp in Texas.

Any substance that has a concentration below 0.3-percent of THC, which is the ingredient that produces a high, is legal. However, Texas crime labs don’t currently have the equipment to determine the amount of THC in a substance.

That’s why DA Mark Gonzalez, along with top prosecutors in Bexar, Harris and Fort Bend counties, signed a letter stating they’re not accepting low-level pot cases that don’t have a lab test.

Matt Manning, first assistant DA for Nueces County, said these cases previously required them to only detect the presence of THC, which could be done with a simple test. But the new law now requires the more advanced test to ensure prosecutors make their burden of proof.

Manning said this policy change is the right move to ensure that the public, as well as the integrity of the DA’s office, is not compromised.

“We’re tasked with enforcing the law and being fair and being honest and being completely ethical in how we do our duties. And until there are drug tests that very clearly tell us that this is an impermissible amount of THC in any given substance, we’re not going to prosecute citizens,” Manning told KRIS 6 News.

Manning also said the Nueces County DA’s office will be dismissing all misdemeanor marijuana cases brought to them since June 10, when the new law took effect. Other Texas counties have also dismissed hundreds of cases, citing the new hemp law.

Prosecutors say they'll no longer accept misdemeanor marijuana cases, in light of a new law that legalizes hemp. They say the change will now require lab tests that our state's labs aren't yet equipped to handle.