Infamous Pot Lawyer Opens Wide Loophole Encouraging Interstate Transportation of the Devil's Lettuce
AMARILLO, TX — The attorney who helped Shelda Anglin escape incarceration after police busted her entire family for possessing a large amount of marijuana in their home located across the street from an elementary school in southwest San Angelo won a larger marijuana case in federal court last week. According to court documents, his defendant, Aneudy Gonzalez, was busted while driving a U-Haul truck with 3,350 pounds of plants suspected of being the Devil’s Lettuce through the Texas Panhandle on December 6. Gonzalez had all charges dropped at the request of the U.S. Attorney at federal court in the Northern District of Texas in Amarillo January 2.
Of note in San Angelo, Gonzalez’s attorney, Daniel Mehler, with offices in Dallas, negotiated a pre-trial diversion for Shelda Anglin, 42 at the time of her arrest. She, along with her husband ZZYZX Benjamin Anglin, Sr., 46 at the time, and son ZZYZX Benjamin Anglin, Jr., 18 at the time, were arrested when cops found 54 pounds of pot and $7,500 in cash in their home located right across the street from Lamar Elementary School.
Represented by San Angelo attorneys, Anglin, Sr. received five years deferred adjudication and son Anglin, Jr. received 10 years deferred adjudication. But mom Shelda Anglin, represented by Mehler, received just a pre-trial diversion requiring only two years on probation.
Shelda Anglin’s freedom after being busted with 54 pounds of marijuana in her home across the street from a public elementary school is small potatoes when compared to what Mehler did next.
In last December’s arrest near Amarillo and subsequent indictment of Gonzalez for U-Hauling the Devil’s Lettuce, Mehler successfully argued that the plants DPS troopers and the DEA believed were marijuana were actually legal hemp. During the traffic stop on I-40 in the Panhandle, Gonzalez produced a lab test report to the DPS trooper. The lab test results stated the “green leafy material” the trooper said smelled like pot inside the U-Haul contained less than 0.3 percent THC. Self-produced lab results didn’t sway the trooper and subsequently Gonzalez was hauled down to the DPS station where DPS Criminal Investigations agents along with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, agents, joined the troopers in questioning and eventually booking Gonzalez into jail. He was charged at the federal level with Possession With Intent to Distribute 1000 Kilograms or More of Marijuana.
In hearings leading up to Gonzalez’s trail, Mehler and team successfully argued that the DPS and DEA agents had erred and did not prove the plants in the U-Haul were the marijuana drug, and not legal hemp as Gonzalez had argued with the self-produced testing results. In fact, Mehler’s team argued, neither the DPS nor the DEA produced their own test results to counter his defendant’s claim. Therefore, as far as the court was concerned, the self-produced test results should stand as the only evidence proving his client’s innocence. The test results provided by Gonzalez upon his arrest showed the plants contained 0.2853 percent THC.
In a brief to the court, Mehler claimed, the Trooper erred again in maintaining that the new hemp laws allow for the plants to only have 0.03 percent THC.
The State of Texas passed a law in the last legislative session, Texas House Bill 1325, which legalizes hemp production. All — including State Rep. Drew Darby — but three state representatives voted in favor. One of the three nays was from Midland’s Representative Tom Craddick. The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture headed by Chairman Mike Conaway of Midland wrote the most recent Agriculture Bill, the hallmark accomplishment for this region’s congressman. Conaway’s Ag bill loosened the restrictions on cultivating hemp. The focus on hemp cultivation came, in part, from the 2017 West Texas Legislative Summit in San Angelo where the House Ag Committee, then headed by Conaway, held a listening tour about what should go into the next age bill. Hemp producers showed up en masse (see story). Now the latest U.S. Code states about the plants:
“The term “hemp” means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
Upon receiving Mehler’s brief, U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox filed a Motion to Dismiss, “in the interest of justice.” The judge signed the motion January 2 and Gonzalez was a free man.
The case dismissed against Gonzalez raises questions about the enforcement of federal and state marijuana laws. If full-blown Cannabis plants are to be transported by the truckload through Texas, what tools or training will state troopers need to be able to quickly differentiate the difference between “hemp” and the marijuana drug? Neither troopers nor the DEA agents have the capability to test hemp plants in the field for THC content percentage. Since they lack capability, lawyers like Mehler contend, law enforcement officers have no probable cause to search the vehicles for illegal marijuana if the driver claims the plants in the truck he or she is driving are only hemp plants.
“Furthermore, this Court must consider the ramifications of the Government’s position. At the time of [Gonzalez’s] arrest, the only evidence before Trooper Nunez was that the U-Haul contained legal hemp and he was left with just a hunch that something was illegal. If the Government is correct and the circumstances on the side of the road constitute probable cause to arrest, then every person in this country engaged in legal hemp business is subject to arrest, confiscation of their property, and detainment until they can prove their products are legal. Not only does that violate due process and offend any notion of constitutional justice, it is just simply not how any of this works,” Mehler wrote in a brief to the court.
According to court documents, Gonzalez was transporting the hemp from California to New York through Texas. He was paid $2,500 for driving the rented U-Haul full of all that “green leafy substance.” On the way to Texas, Gonzalez was stopped by law enforcement in Arizona. There, however, the authorities believed Gonzalez when he told them it was just hemp and let him go.
Why was he transporting hemp to New York? Some say the cargo was to be used to create CBD oil once it arrived.
Mehler’s law partner, Megan Roper, successfully argued for her client to be exonerated Nov. 13 after being arrested and charged for DWI by THC in Denton County. Why? The State couldn’t prove intoxication, the jury decided.
Correction (1/7/2019). The original last paragraph read that attorney partner Megan Roper was arrested for DWI by THC. She was not the one on trial; her client was. We corrected the last paragraph.
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