State Attorney halting prosecution of some marijuana cases

Published: Jul. 31, 2019 at 1:01 PM EDT
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By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News

July 31, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- State Attorney Jack Campbell is halting prosecution of marijuana possession cases in the Second Circuit – absent a confession or the development of a new test - citing Florida’s new law legalizing hemp.

“Hemp products look and smell exactly like marijuana products,” Campbell said.

Campbell says there is no roadside test available that can distinguish between marijuana and hemp, which has a THC content of .3% or less.

“The current posture is that no public or private lab in Florida can do this dispositive testing. The Florida Department of Agriculture is unable to do so, and while there are some private labs that may want to get this business, they are not online as of now,” Campbell wrote.

Campbell sent a letter to all the sheriff’s departments and police departments in the Second Circuit on Wednesday outlining what he called “significant” changes. He points out that now legal hemp products would test positive for THC using existing test kits and K9’s trained to sniff out marijuana are likely to alert to hemp products as well.

Campbell also says his office will no longer be authorizing search warrants based simply on “presumptive tests”, officers smelling marijuana, or dogs alerting to it.

“Much of the search and seizure law hinges on either the officer’s or K-9’s ability to smell. This seems to now be in significant doubt,” Campbell wrote.

Campbell is calling on the legislature, Florida Department of Agriculture and FDLE to address these consequences of the new law.

Campbell is also calling on the legislature to bar children from possessing CBD or Hemp, saying some shops are now making hemp cigarettes and hemp gummies which can be legally purchased by minors.

Law enforcement agencies across Florida are facing the same dilemma.

A spokesman for the Leon County Sheriff's Office says the agency sent new protocols to all its sworn members on July 2, the day after hemp was legalized in Florida.