Why Is Possession of Hash a Felony in Nebraska?
In Nebraska, possession of hash is charged as a felony, but possession of a joint, blunt, or other small amount of marijuana is charged as an infraction. Many Nebraskans argue that the two substances should be charged the same way.
It’s All About the THC
By statutory definition, hash is any substance containing ten percent or more by weight of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While possession of a gram of hash (or even residue) can be charged as a felony, possession of raw marijuana does not become a felony until the owner possesses more than one pound.
Hash, shatter, or wax are treated more harshly than raw marijuana because of the high THC concentration.
So How Do Police Know If the Substance Is Hash?
To arrest someone for a felony, law enforcement only needs probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. If police have well-grounded facts to believe that a substance is hash, wax, or shatter, they will arrest for felony possession of a Schedule I controlled substance. Sometimes, however, law enforcement will conduct a field test to determine whether the substance contains any THC.
Later, the substance is sent to the crime lab, where it is more accurately tested.
Possession of Hash Defenses
A criminal defense lawyer will often determine whether his or her client’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated by law enforcement. If law enforcement found the hash after making an unlawful traffic stop, search, detention, or seizure, the evidence will be suppressed, which means it cannot be used against the defendant at trial. When drug evidence is suppressed, the case is usually dismissed.
Another common defense is challenging whether the person charged actually possessed the hash found. When law enforcement stops a car on Interstate 80, there are often multiple passengers inside. When hash is found in the trunk of the car, police have probable cause to arrest every passenger. However, to convict anyone, law enforcement must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that each of the passengers had possession or constructive possession of the hash. In many instances, multiple occupants of the vehicle are unaware that a fellow passenger is travelling with a controlled substance.
A third strategy is arguing that the THC concentration is too low for the substance to qualify as hash. If the THC level is tested in a crime lab, a defense lawyer can argue that the test was inadequate. In some instances, crime labs inadvertently destroy the evidence prior to the criminal defense attorney being afforded the opportunity to conduct independent tests. When this happens, the test results and the evidence are usually excluded by the trial judge.
Berry Law has represented several clients charged with transporting edibles through the state of Nebraska. When edibles are homemade, the THC concentration varies. Furthermore, forensic toxicologists have argued that because THC is a derivative of an organic substance, it will decompose over time, reducing its concentration in cookies or brownies.
Contact an Experienced Nebraska Drug Crime Attorney
A felony drug conviction can be devastating. Often, people arrested for possession of a controlled substance have little or no criminal record. Their future plans, including employment and education, are suddenly at risk when they are charged with a felony drug crime. If you or a loved one have been charged with possession of hash or any other drug crime in Lincoln, Omaha, or along Interstate 80, contact the experienced drug crime attorneys at Berry Law.