Image: Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon made clear to the Montgomery County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, that his Office would continue to prosecute marijuana possession cases in Montgomery County, despite the bizarre lobbying by democrats and other liberals to end such prosecutions as a result of the problems Senate Bill 1325, the hemp legislation, may create. The Commissioners Court approved Ligon spending up to $20,000 on laboratory testing to support the criminal prosecutions, as ultraliberals, such as Voter Awareness Council’s Steve Leakey and a group of his “yellow shirted” ultraliberal allies, sneered at Ligon and the Commissioners Court during the discussion.
Austin and Conroe, July 19 – Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen jointly issued a letter to all District Attorneys and County Attorneys in Texas on Thursday, July 18, 2019, in which they urged prosecutors not to use the passage of House Bill 1325, a bill which allows for agricultural hemp production and the sale of hemp products, such as rope, containing 0.3% or less of tetrahedrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive component of the Cannibis sativa, the plant which is the source both of hemp products as well as of marijuana, as a pretext to stop prosecutions for possession of marijuana. The letter vindicates the tough position of Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon.
House Bill 1325, which Governor Greg Abbott signed into law on June 10, and which became effective immediately after passing both houses of the Texas Legislature almost unanimously, legalized the production of hemp as an agricultural product in Texas as long as the products contained 0.3% or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Soft-on-crime prosecutors try to use Senate Bill 1325 as pretext for decriminalization of marijuana
Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson announced that she was dismissing two hundred and thirty-five (235) marijuana possession cases pending in Tarrant County criminal courts, because “The lab report [detailing the level of THC in the contraband] in our estimation is now a requirement of the crime because it’s the only way you can tell legal from illegal.” Wilson dismissed the cases on Wednesday, June 28, 2019.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has essentially decriminalized marijuana possession in Harris County through her policy of not prosecuting most marijuana possession cases. Ogg is presently considering a formal policy making clear that her office will not take misdemeanor marijuana possession cases without crime lab determinations of the level of THC first. Ogg has prepared a draft policy statement, which she and other prosecutors have distributed to urge other district attorneys around Texas to sign.
Montgomery County’s District Attorney Ligon, however, didn’t follow his liberal prosecutorial colleagues and could not have made the policy of his office more clear. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office will continue to prosecute marijuana possession cases regardless of this inadvertent problem.
“To Montgomery County law enforcement agencies:
“The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office will not be joining those Texas prosecutors who have prematurely announced limitations on the acceptance of new marihuana cases as the result of the passage of House Bill 1325.
“While that legislation will eventually permit state officials to issue licenses for hemp cultivation and the production of certain hemp products, it is important to note that those agencies must first promulgate rules and regulations to govern the licensing process and the regulation of the hemp industry. At this point no licenses have been issued and no legal hemp is being grown in this State.
“It is also important to note that the legislation expressly prohibits the issuance of licenses for the production of hemp products intended for smoking or vaping.
“Even after licenses are issued, legal hemp growers and transporters will be required to maintain and produce appropriate paperwork authorizing their activities. With appropriate training and experience, law enforcement officers should have no difficulty developing probable cause to believe that an individual possesses marihuana intended for smoking, rather than lawfully cultivated hemp.
“When a peace officer has developed probable cause to believe that an individual unlawfully possesses marihuana, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office will continue to accept and file appropriate criminal charges. And this office will continue to dispose of marihuana cases utilizing appropriate plea bargains and pretrial diversion programs.
“It is true that there will be, for some undetermined period of time, a shortage of laboratories capable of determining the THC concentration of hemp and marihuana, and distinguishing lawful hemp from unlawful marihuana containing a THC concentration of more than 0.3 percent. But the anticipated delays in disposing of those few cases in which individuals persist in pleading not guilty do not justify prosecutors’ abdication of their responsibility to enforce the criminal laws of Texas.
“This office will not use the anticipated problems in implementing the new legislation as a pretext to achieve the policy goal of ending prosecution of marihuana cases, particularly after the recent failure of all legislative efforts to decriminalize or reduce the penalties for possession of marihuana.
“BRETT W. LIGON”
Four statewide leaders respond
The Abbott-Patrick-Bonnen-Paxton letter discussed recently dismissed marijuana possession cases and press reports that some prosecutors will no longer prosecute misdemeanor marijuana cases. In the letter, the four state leaders laid out how actions taken by certain those prosecutors do not align with the passage of House Bill 1325 and represent a misunderstanding of how the law works. The leaders urged all prosecutors to uphold their oath and faithfully execute the law.
“Marijuana has not been decriminalized in Texas, and these actions demonstrate a misunderstanding of how H.B. 1325 works,” the letter states. “The power to change the law is legislative and rests with the Texas Legislature under the Texas Constitution. Since H.B. 1325 did not repeal the marijuana laws of Texas, as Judicial Branch Members, you should continue to enforce those laws by ‘faithfully executing the duties of the office of the [District or County Attorney], of the State of Texas, and … to the best of [your] ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State,'” the State officials told local prosecutors.
The letter noted that the cost of testing for THC levels in marijuana is substantially lower than members of the liberal media had originally reported in order to try to scare prosecutors into discontinuing marijuana possession prosecutions.
Ligon responded to the Governor’s and other leaders’ letter. He told The Golden Hammer, “I appreciate Governor Abbott putting this matter to rest in such public fashion. As I have said publicly, it appeared many jurisdictions were dismissing marijuana possession cases merely on a pretext and not a genuine belief that the Hemp Farm Bill had actually changed Texas law regarding the State’s law concerning marijuana possession. We [at the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office] continue to devote appropriate resources to this law and thank the men and women in law enforcement who help keep our roads safe from impaired drivers.”
Meanwhile, the democrats, pushing drug culture, lose their cool
On Tuesday, July 9, 2019, Ligon made a presentation to the Montgomery County Commissioners Court. Ligon explained to Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough and the Commissioners that the District Attorney’s Office will need to spend funds on testing the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, a psychoactive component of the hemp plant, in marijuana possession cases through an independent laboratory, as a result of legislation HB 1325. The Commissioners Court approved Ligon’s request to spend up to $20,000 for the tests out of forfeiture and contingency funds.
During Ligon’s presentation, a group of individuals, mostly wearing yellow shirts, and working closely with ultraliberal Voter Awareness Council Chairman Steve Leakey who sat right behind them, loudly whispered “such a jerk”, “what a jerk”, and similar comments about Ligon and Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack. After the Commissioners Court meeting, Ligon spoke with some of the individuals in the group. Ligon wrote a Guest Editorial in this newspaper, which is “Guest Expose: Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon,” The Golden Hammer, July 10, 2019.
Ligon wrote in this newspaper on July 10:
“I met a Democrat in Commissioners Court today. Here is my expose.
“After explaining some of the nuances involved with the newly enacted hemp bill and the steps the District Attorney’s office takes to prosecute marijuana cases, I was approached by a small group of ladies wearing yellow shirts.
“Normally yellow signals caution. I should have heeded the signs.
“One lady began to lecture me that marijuana possession laws were very personal to her.I attempted to listen to her describe how it was my fault and the state’s fault that her son was now a paranoid schizophrenic.
“I’m used to being called names by family members of defendants, so I listened patiently as she advised her son used to smoke normal marijuana and he was ‘just fine,’ but because it was illegal he was forced to purchase synthetic marijuana (which is also illegal), which caused his new permanent diagnosis of being paranoid schizophrenic.
“I missed the logic in her thoughts, so she had to explain to me that if marijuana was lawful he wouldn’t have smoked the synthetic marijuana. Confused yet? I tried to tell her that her logic was flawed and referenced the fact that an addict will get his high wherever he can.
“I gave the example that, even though alcohol was lawful, people still drank xerox fluid and windex until they go blind just to ingest the alcohol.I thought I made a brilliant point. But evidently not, as she doubled down on her assertion that her son’s new diagnosis and drug addiction was my fault.
“I don’t know if this represents the majority of folks, but I saw it as a refusal to accept responsibility for actions and the consequences that flow from them.”
The democrats, as one would expect from a group who are far more focused on pushing the “drug culture” than protecting innocent individuals, responded nastily to Ligon’s concerns about public safety arising.
One of the liberal leaders, who appeared in the Commissioners Court on July 9 to attempt to foist the George Soros-backed concept of “voting centers” on Montgomery County so that democrats will have an easier time busing illegal voters to the polls, shared Ligon’s comments in The Golden Hammer on social media.
In response, Montgomery County democrat Party leader Marc Meyers spewed the following statement:
“This is just one reason why I need a candidate to run against Brett Ligon in 2020! This is a monumental waste of resources and his defense of enforcing nonsensical marijuana laws based on the fact that people ‘drink Zerox fluid and Windex’ (actually, antifreeze and alcohol containing medications are more common) to get drunk and so we need to enforce marijuana laws just because addicts (evidence that marijuana is addictive is sparse and contradictory, at best) will do anything to get high is about the dumbest reasoning I can think of. Yes, there is a problem with intoxicated driving in Colorado as a result of Marijuana legalization, but nowhere near the problems with alcohol-impaired intoxicated driving. Ugh.”
Of course, one of the staunchest opponents of the law enforcement community in Montgomery County is Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley, a liberal Big Spender posing as a Republican. Voter Awareness Council’s Leakey is an ardent Riley supporter and works closely with the drug culture pushers, the democrats. Riley, Leakey, the “yellow shirts,” and VAC clearly work closely together to push the liberal agenda.