Texas hemp case likely to end with lawsuit
January 13, 2020
The latest controversy involving the transportation of hemp is likely to end with a lawsuit.
Aneudy Gonzalez, who was transporting more than a ton of hemp in a U-Haul truck, was incarcerated for nearly a month on federal drug charges. Now released after lab results showed the THC was less than 0.3%, Gonzalez plans to sue.
On Dec. 5, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper pulled over Gonzalez’s U-Haul on Interstate 40 near Conway, Texas, and discovered multiple boxes of what the trooper believed to be marijuana. Gonzalez, 39, of Surfside, Fla., was arrested and charged with felony possession of marijuana. On Dec. 9, the Texas DPS issued a news release stating that 3,350 pounds of marijuana were seized.
However, on Jan. 2 a district court judge ordered the indictment against Gonzalez to be dismissed after lab results indicated that the substance was hemp. According to Texas law, cannabis must contain at least 0.3% THC to be considered marijuana. Cannabis with less than 0.3% THC is considered hemp.
“We maintained from the word go that all he had was hemp, and (on Jan. 2) the U.S. government moved to dismiss the charges against our client,” attorney Daniel Mehler posted on his law firm’s Facebook page. “We will now be seeking the return of property and just compensation for our client losing a month of his life in the custody of U.S. Marshals.”
According to Mehler, Gonzalez was being paid $2,500 plus expenses to haul the hemp from California to New York.
Mehler said Gonzalez showed authorities paperwork with the lab report when he was pulled over.
“He was cooperative,” Mehler said. “He presented all the documents to the agents. But they didn’t believe it was hemp and contacted the (Drug Enforcement Administration).”
Also at issue, Mehler said, is whether or not the hemp maintained its value.
“The company was paying $1 million for the load,” he said. “Cannabis is a perishable item. It degrades when exposed to oxygen and light. The boxes were opened, and it sat in a warehouse for a month. Now we need to find out if it’s even marketable.”
Mehler also will be seeking compensation for Gonzalez.
“They owe him an apology, and someone has to figure out what a month of someone’s life is worth,” Mehler said. “This is everybody’s worst nightmare. The government should be ashamed of itself.”
The Texas DPS did not return Land Line’s request for comment.
Gonzalez’s arrest follows separate cases in Idaho where truck drivers were charged with drug trafficking for hauling loads of hemp.
The cases of Dennis Palamarchuk, who was arrested Jan. 24, and of Andrew K. D’Addario and Erich C. Eisenhart, who were arrested in April 2018, were resolved in stipulation agreements, or plea deals, that eliminated additional jail time. They each could have been sentenced to five years in prison on the felony drug charge.