The Texas Department of Public Safety announced a major drug seizure in December 2019, but the case was dismissed on Jan. 2 after it was learned that the 3,350 pounds of plant material involved was legal hemp and not illegal marijuana. The judge who dismissed the case ordered the 39-year-old man apprehended in connection with the alleged marijuana released from custody. The man's attorney says that his client intends to file a lawsuit seeking the return of his property and compensation for the time he spent in an Amarillo detention facility.
The alleged marijuana was discovered in a U-Haul truck that was pulled over by the Texas Highway Patrol in Carson County for an undisclosed traffic violation. Court documents reveal that the truck had been stopped previously in Arizona but was allowed to continue on its journey after police determined that its load was hemp and not marijuana. The documents also suggest that one of the Drug Enforcement Administration agents assigned to the case was unfamiliar with the permissible THC limits in hemp established by Texas House Bill 1325.
The man, who was facing a possible life sentence on federal marijuana trafficking charges, says that he plans to join his family in New York. In a press statement released after the case was dismissed, the DPS said that the trooper involved identified the plant material as marijuana based on his experience and training and acted properly by contacting the DEA.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys may seek to have drug charges dismissed without delay when they learn that the substances involved have been misidentified. This kind of mistake most commonly occurs in cases involving marijuana or substances that have been identified using field drug-testing kits. When their clients maintain that the substances discovered by police are benign, attorneys could seek to have alleged illegal drugs subjected to more rigorous forensic testing.