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Feds realize a jailed man's 3,000 pounds of 'marijuana' isn't pot, Texas lawyer says

Kansas City Star logoKansas City Star 1/9/2020 By Chacour Koop, The Kansas City Star
a close up of a plant: A Florida man is in custody, accused of attempting to transport 3,000 pounds of marijuana from San Jose, Calif., to New York City, but his lawyer says the cargo was hemp. © Olga Prokhozheva/Dreamstime/TNS A Florida man is in custody, accused of attempting to transport 3,000 pounds of marijuana from San Jose, Calif., to New York City, but his lawyer says the cargo was hemp.

It was trumpeted as a huge drug bust.

Texas Department of Public Safety posted a picture on Facebook of dozens of boxes — presumably filled with over 3,000 pounds of marijuana — piled in front of a U-Haul truck stopped by troopers in early December.

During the traffic stop east of Amarillo along Interstate 40, troopers called DEA agents for help after finding what they thought to be multiple boxes of drugs.

Florida resident Aneudy Gonzalez, 39, was accused of transporting the marijuana from San Jose, Calif., to New York City. He was charged with felony drug possession and put in jail.

However, after nearly a month behind bars, Gonzalez walked out of jail a free man with the charge dismissed, KCBD reported. That’s because the “marijuana” was actually legal hemp, KTXS reported.

In 2019, Texas lawmakers legalized hemp production, defining marijuana as a drug from the cannabis plant with more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, content, according to The Texas Tribune.

A DEA agent testified as being unaware of the state law and confused by the THC content rules, KCBD reported.

“Today we beat the feds,” Mehler Cannabis, a law firm specializing in marijuana-related laws, wrote in a Facebook post on Jan. 2. “We maintained from the word ‘go’ that all he had was hemp, and this morning the U.S. government moved to dismiss the charges against our client.”

The law firm is seeking the return of the property and “just compensation for our client losing a month of his life in the custody.”

Gonzalez said he’s owed an apology in a statement to Law 360.

“I was just doing my job and the government threw me in jail for almost a month. I fully intend on pursuing justice, whatever that entails,” Gonzalez told Law 360. “Nobody has apologized to me. Somebody owes me an apology.”

In a statement, Texas DPS wrote that the trooper believed the plant material was marijuana based on training and experience, according to KCBD.

“The trooper arrested Mr. Gonzalez, and following further questioning by a DEA Task Force Officer, the DEA Officer adopted the investigation and took custody of Mr. Gonzalez and all evidence,” according to the statement.

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