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EPPD to ask City Council to spend $360,000 in tax money on marijuana testing

EL PASO, Texas -- The El Paso Police Department is looking to ask City Council to raise its budget by $72,000 next year to allow the department to test marijuana cases at a lab.

"Marijuana and hemp are very much so identical one of the only characteristics that differs hemp from marijuana is the amount of THC," said Sgt. Robert Gomez, an EPPD spokesman.

The difference between marijuana and hemp products is the level of THC in them. In Texas, the legal quantity for THC is 0.3% anything more and it gets qualified as illegal. The major problem not only for EPPD - but also for other police departments across the state - is distinguishing illegal marijuana from legal hemp, and only a lab can make that determination.

Ever since the law in Texas changed legalizing CBD and hemp, police officers have had to change the way they approach an arrest.

"Any amount of THC was illegal in the past, so really the testing was more simple: it was more present or not present. So now that we have to have a specific amount of THC to classify as an illegal substance more quantitative testing needs to be done," Gomez said.

The proposal to City Council is to increase the police budget by $360,000 over the next five years as part of a contract with a lab.

"It has to do with arresting practices, it has to do with the law change - what the law requires for us to seek prosecution. So that is really what this increase in the budget is - it doesn't mean that we are arresting more or not, it just means that the evidence we have to present has to be within the law, which in turn costs more," Gomez explained.

At the moment, the El Paso District Attorney's Office has put a pause on small marijuana cases - saying it cannot prosecute any of them without the lab results.

"DPS is still not testing small amounts of marijuana, therefore, these cases cannot be prosecuted without
the lab results as they are the key evidence to obtaining a conviction," Paul Ferris, a spokesperson for the District Attorney's Office said. "The few labs that exist for testing drug cases have indicated that the priority for testing will be the big marijuana cases, and if there is funding available after testing these bigger drug cases, then they will begin testing the smaller cases."

The manager of a local smoke shop told ABC-7 that he thinks a better economic solution would be to legalize marijuana and generate tax revenue as opposed to potentially increasing taxes to pay for testing.

"I know it's not up to (the city), it's up to Texas really. And if Texas wanted to do something about it, then they might as well make marijuana legal so that they can just tax the hell out of it - instead of taxing the people for drug tests," said Michael Cisneros.

JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.

Comments

26 Comments

        1. It’s fake news Char Liar Dumbo. Read the fine print nitwit. The DAs have not stopped filing marijuana offenses as you falsely claim. Some low level marijuana offenses. High level, dealers and traffickers are still being prosecuted. Mostly felonies in Texas.

  1. Really EPPD? The desire to prosecute people for minimal amounts of herb is a huge waste of time and money. It’s 2021 and they’re worried about weed! Texas is weird…..no abortions, no thc, but all the guns you want. I don’t get it and people who smoke/ingest thc are not horrible people that need to have criminal records that can ruin employment or career opportunities. It’s no different than spirts, wine or cigarettes

    1. It is way different than cigs and booze. Alcohol is a very strong poison they you ingest in volume and damages your organs every time you do. Also can turn addicting. Cigs are cancerous and taxing on the cardio-vascular and of course there that addiction.

      1. Marijuana is also addictive, is also cancerous and is a confirmed gateway drug to other more harmful substances just like cigs and alcohol. Even extracted THC in the forms of dabs, oils, waxes, etc. have very dangerous side effects including addiction, mental illness, cancer and stroke. It IS NOT the miracle drug that the pro-pot people are trying to push.

        1. To see the result of long term THC abuse look no further than nitwit Alberto Velarde the pothead. His old alias used to be High420Lonesome. AKA Char Lie Dumbo.

          1. It’s Char Lie Dumbo the pothead. You can’t debunk Alberto and his mental disease. Visit El Paso Psych Centers and see how many people are in for marijuana abuse.

        2. Alcohol is the #1 gateway drug. It is always the first drug a user will try AND abuse. Addiction is simply impossible. I made some other arguments to your post but KVIAs censorship was haywire and I gave up trying.

          1. How is addiction impossible? Please explain that. The science of addiction is pretty clear.

    1. So does THC. Check the data in Colorado. THC related auto accidents skyrocketed after it became legal to sell and use THC in Colorado. So did homelessness.

  2. ‘How is addiction impossible? Please explain that. The science of addiction is pretty clear.’

    Do you know of any Rehab Centers that had addicted weed users? LOL Maybe if you mean mentally addicting but that true of junk food and overeating too. But there is absolutely no physical addiction to it. Alcohol on the other had causes violence, domestic tragedies, false courage and on and on. That sht is nasty!

    1. Yes actually. They refer to it as Marijuana use disorder but it’s just a more PC phrase than addiction. Large amounts of THC can and does “highjack” the endocannabinoid system of the central nervous system.

  3. So what exactly are they testing about pot? They do know it gets people high, right? It does cause a user to try even worse drugs, right? It’s as bad as alcohol when driving, right?
    So tell me again what the testing is for?

    1. They’re testing the THC levels. Legal amounts of hemp are .03% or less THC. A normal joint in the 1980s was 3-5% THC. Today’s Marijuana is much higher with some of the concentrated forms like oils and dabs are as high as 85% THC. Those are felony amounts.

      1. Also, many of the CBD products have higher levels of THC than what is legal so some people are using a product that they think is legal but isn’t.

        1. My entire argument is that if weed is illegal alcohol should be too OR both should be legal. Alcohol should not be the only legal choice of the two which is simply absurd.

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