Hays County District Attorney’s office responds to House Bill 1325

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Hays County District Attorney’s office responds to House Bill 1325

The Hays County Government Center is located at 712 S. Stagecoach Trail in San Marcos.

The Hays County Government Center is located at 712 S. Stagecoach Trail in San Marcos.

Christopher Green

The Hays County Government Center is located at 712 S. Stagecoach Trail in San Marcos.

Christopher Green

Christopher Green

The Hays County Government Center is located at 712 S. Stagecoach Trail in San Marcos.

Christopher Green, Reporter

Wes Mau, Hays County district attorney, released a statement in regard to House Bill 1325, a bill that legalizes cultivation of hemp by licensed producers, which prompted responses from locals in the community.

“House Bill 1325, the Hemp Regulation law, did not legalize possession or distribution of small amounts of marijuana in Texas,” Mau stated. “The Hays County Criminal District Attorney’s Office (HCDA) will continue to accept marijuana possession and distribution cases from law enforcement, and will continue to deal with those cases as justice requires, as well as any additional charges under the new law.”

The statement from Mau comes after several counties in Texas have started rejecting prosecution of marijuana-related cases. Some of those counties include Travis, Harris, Bexar, Nueces and Fort Bend Counties.

HB1325 established a regulatory plan for production and cultivation of hemp, another word for the plant Cannabis sativa L. Hemp contains less than 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.

Mau said since the laws against marijuana have not changed, Hays County will continue to prosecute marijuana-related charges.

“The legislature did not decriminalize marijuana,” Mau said. “Marijuana has not been legalized, so we wouldn’t stop prosecuting those cases. We weren’t prosecuting hemp cases to begin with.”

After Mau released the statement, local activist group Mano Amiga, a nonprofit organization aiming to provide educational resources to the immigrant community in San Marcos, authored a response to Hays County continuing the prosecution of marijuana-related cases.

Mano Amiga member Jordan Buckley said Hays County should engage in alternatives when dealing with marijuana charges.

“We really should be embracing a program called L.E.A.D, which stands for law enforcement assisted diversion,” Buckley said. “L.E.A.D is the gold standard across the nation for how we should be dealing with low-level offenses.”

Additionally, Buckley believes the policies revolving around marijuana in Hays County negatively impact the community.

“Through L.E.A.D, we can find out what people really need, whether it’s mental health treatment, drug addiction or other types of social services,” Buckley said.

In a written statement from Mano Amiga, Buckley expressed his views regarding how Hays County deals with marijuana possession charges.

“Continued criminalization for low-level marijuana possession embodies Dumb on Crime, especially when it’s shamefully been our county’s leading arrest charge since 2012,” Buckley stated. “Meanwhile, numerous counties across the state — including our neighbor Travis to the north — have abandoned prosecutions altogether. You would think we weren’t suffering a direly expensive mass-incarceration crisis locally but, of course, we definitively are. Taxpayers get to foot the bill for our D.A.’s 1950s-era priorities.”

San Marcos resident Vidyavinitha Condoor said she is not sure about whether the prosecutions should continue.

“Personally I’m not a user, so its hard to tell because it’s quite debatable. It’s legalized in other states, so it’s something that needs to be talked about. They need to come out with a consensus.”

According to Hays County’s misdemeanor case activity records, there were 960 new marijuana drug possession cases filed between Jan. 1, 2017 and Jan. 31, 2018, bringing the total number of cases on the docket to 1,756.

San Marcos City Council has established a criminal justice reform committee, which will aim to reduce inmate populations in Hays County jail by finding alternative ways to deal with low-level charges. Council members Mark Rockeymoore, Lisa Prewitt and Ed Mihalkanin have been appointed to the committee.

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