DA discusses misdemeanor marijuana possession

Local News

A house bill legalizing hemp and hemp-infused products like CBD oil were signed into law during this last legislative session. It changed the definition of marijuana, but local prosecutors are still required to pursue misdemeanor marijuana cases.

According to the district attorney’s office, arrests are left up to the discretion of the law enforcement officers, but even if they don’t arrest someone, there can still be consequences.

“Just because you’re not arrested on the side of the road, if it’s a good solid case you will eventually be arrested,” said Eddie Wharff, the intake chief. 

If someone is caught with a small amount of weed, DPS troopers may not take the person away, instead they’ll confiscate the drug, write a report and hand it off to the DA.

“We will continue to receive cases involving marijuana from law enforcement and we will evaluate each one of those cases on a case by case basis,”  said Sunshine Stanek, the Lubbock County criminal district attorney. 

Stanek said if they decide there’s enough evidence to file a case, they will.

“We look at the case and decide whether or not it is in fact a crime, whether or not it should be prosecuted and then we make a filing decision,” Stanek said. 

Prior, marijuana was defined as parts of the cannabis plant, but now it’s only parts that contain 0.3% or more of THC. THC is the psychoactive part of the drug that causes a person to get high. 

The DA’s officer wants to make it clear, when they legalized hemp, they in no way legalized marijuana.

“There’s never been that defense of that isn’t marijuana that I was caught with, or this isn’t marijuana that I was dealing, or this isn’t marijuana that I was using, it’s actually hemp,” said Mandi Say, first assistant. “It’s never been hemp, it’s always been marijuana.”

They say criminal cases can be prosecuted with evidence.

“Did they have bongs and rolling papers and grinders?” Wharff said. 

So even if you aren’t arrested right away.

“[Just because] someone’s not arrested doesn’t mean they can’t be prosecuted, doesn’t mean they can’t face ramifications for what they did,” Stanek said.

If convicted, misdemeanor offenders can face up to one year in jail and a fine of $4,000.

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