SAN ANTONIO – The Bexar County Commissioners Court gave the green light to purchase equipment for the Bexar County Crime Lab, the latest step in a complicated process involving marijuana cases.
The recent hemp law changed the definition of marijuana, meaning the drug needed to have a THC level more than .3% to be considered illegal.
THC is the active compound in cannabis that gives a user a high feeling.
The new testing equipment is something the Bexar County Crime Lab could not afford until this week.
Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales got approval from the Commissioners Court to purchase THC testing equipment for the Bexar County Crime Lab, something it has never had.
Gonzales faced some challenges after House Bill 1325, which legalized hemp and hemp-derived products — such as cannabidiol, or CBD, oil — was enacted.
The substance is legal if THC levels are under .3%.
With low-level marijuana cases growing more complicated, the DA's office said it would not prosecute possession of marijuana cases under one ounce.
When it comes to cases between one and four ounces, residents may be eligible for a cite-and-release program.
The DA's office said cases between one and four ounces must be tested and show a THC concentration of more than .3% before it is even filed.
Cases over four ounces will also need to be tested since a person can't be indicted without moving past that THC threshold.
Even with all that coming into play, the DA's office will request testing initially be limited to felony marijuana cases.
Officials want to learn about the lab's capacity and the ultimate cost of testing before making decisions on the value of testing and prosecuting possession of marijuana cases between one and four ounces.
The following is a statement released by the DA's office about its policy regarding marijuana prosecution:
Since May 16, 2019, it has been and continues to be the policy of the Bexar County D.A.'s Office to refuse prosecution of Possession of Marijuana under 1 ounce.
Individuals that are found to be in Possession of Marijuana between 1 and 4 ounces are potentially eligible for our Cite and Release Program.
The District Attorney's Office will not, however, file a Possession of Marijuana case with a weight between 1 and 4 ounces without a lab report demonstrating a THC concentration greater than .3%. This has been and continues to be the policy of the District Attorney's Office since the Hemp law took effect.
The District Attorney's Office will accept Possession of Marijuana cases over 4 ounces. However, these cases cannot be indicted without a lab report showing a THC concentration greater than .3%.
This week's approval by Commissioner's Court to purchase equipment for the Bexar County Crime Lab will eventually enable the lab to test for THC concentration. The District Attorney's Office will request that testing initially be limited to felony marijuana cases. Once the lab's capacity and the ultimate cost of testing to law enforcement become more clear, decisions can be made on the value of testing and prosecuting Possession of Marijuana cases between 1 and 4 ounces.