Man Arrested for 3,350 Pounds of Weed But It Was Hemp!
What was thought to be a major drug bust by the Texas Department of Public Safety, was actually a wrongful arrest and a lot of legal hemp.
On December 5, 2019, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper pulled over Aneudy Gonzalez, a U-Haul driver for a traffic violation in Carson County. An inspection of the vehicle resulted in the discovery of 3,350 pounds of suspected weed, found in boxes in the cargo area of the truck. The driver was arrested and jailed on federal charges.
However, a month later, lab tests showed that the cargo was, in fact, legal hemp. Following this revelation, a federal court dismissed the case and 39-year-old Gonzalez was released from prison.
Mr. Gonzalez’s attorney said that the DEA had no probable cause to arrest his client.
Texas hemp law clearly says that the state cannot interfere with the interstate commerce of hemp or arrest someone without probable cause that the substance is in fact illegal. Mr.Gonzalez even provided a report showing that the cargo he was transporting was legal hemp, but was charged nonetheless.
On their part, the DPS issued a statement saying that the trooper made the arrest believing that the substance was weed based on “his training and experience.”
Texas troopers were not the only ones who mistook the cargo for pot. Mr.Gonzalez was also arrested in Arizona during the same trip, but released after spending only one night in jail.
Hemp legalization is new in the state of Texas and law enforcement agencies need proper training so they won’t wrongfully arrest people anymore, said Mr. Gonzalez’s lawyer.
He added that his client will sue the state for wrongful arrest and detention.
In the meantime, cannabis prosecutions in Texas have declined by more than half since the state legalized hemp 6 months ago. Since public testing of cannabis is not available, law enforcement must pay for costly private lab tests in order to determine if the substance contains over 0.3% THC. This also delays the procedure leading to prosecutors dropping hundreds of low-level pot charges.